Making tough decisions before you have to

 

Hanging on a wall in a busy downtown Halifax drop-in centre a poster silently asks one simple question: If you ended up in the Emergency Department and weren’t able to speak for yourself, who would you want to speak for you?

Bryon Anderson is the director of the Metro Non-Profit Housing drop-in centre. He and Monica Flinn, a nurse with Mobile Outreach Street Health (MOSH), came up with the idea of helping people living on the street or in shelters write out their personal directives.

“We are becoming more proactive now because there was a certain need and people had come to us,” he said. “What we have found that there is certainly a desire for this to happen.”

Writing a personal directive allows you to make decisions about your personal care ahead of time in case you are ever incapacitated and unable to make those decisions on your own. You can also name the person you want making decisions for you.

Anderson said this is especially important for people living on the street because they are at higher risk of illness, injury and incapacitation and they are often alone.

“Many people have friends and acquaintances and that sort of thing but no one really steps up to the plate and makes these hard decisions,” he said. “It sounds morbid, but it’s not like we’re saying ‘you’re going to die right away,’ it’s just that everybody’s going to die sometime, so it’s just, how best to die with dignity.”

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