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BC FORUM News - from the Canadian Centre for Elder Law

Canadian Centre for Elder Law Newsletter - February, 2019

Our new report is out today!

We are thrilled to announce that today we launched our report with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. on the law and practice of health care consent for people living with dementia in BC. The report, titled Conversations about Care, reviews the legal framework in BC governing health care decision-making in community, acute and long-term care, and summarizes consultation findings from speaking with over 200 stakeholders. The report concludes with 34 recommendations for change, addressing law reform, access to justice and legal aid, public and health care professional legal education, and systemic barriers to informed consent.

The title of the report reflects that informed health care decision-making is ultimately about prioritising time for open and accessible conversations about what matters most to people living with dementia. A diagnosis of dementia should not remove people’s right to make their own health care decisions. People have a right to make their own decisions so long as they understand information relevant to the health care treatment at issue. People living with dementia have the right to ask questions and have their questions answered.

People who do not have the capacity to make their own health care decisions independently may still be able to participate in those decisions if they are provided with support with communication and understanding. Sometimes it is just a matter of slowing down the pace of the conversation. As one family caregiver said to us, “rushing is stopping you from really understanding what your mother/father/sibling is experiencing with dementia... because there’s activity everywhere, there’s noise everywhere... doctors or nurses coming to talk to you and saying, or asking you questions, or saying things to you, and you’re supposed to try and remember, and you know it’s just, it’s sort of like a recipe for disaster.”

The right to accommodation of communication needs is built into both health care consent and human rights law in BC. This process often requires the participation of family and health care team members, but should always centre around the person living with dementia and respect their decision-making autonomy.

We have developed two versions of Conversations about Care:

a full report that is almost 300 pages; and

a 12-page plain language version.

We consulted with a range of stakeholders to develop this report, including health care professionals, lawyers, family caregivers, and people living with dementia. The plain language version summarizes how we did this work, what we learned, and what we think should be done in order for the health care and legal systems to better support informed consent for people living with dementia. We hope this plain language report will be accessible to many people living with dementia.

We owe tremendous gratitude to everyone who came forward to share their experiences, and to the fifteen Project Advisory Committee members who worked with us to develop recommendations that we could all agree on. Health care consent issues engage the practice of so many different people and agencies, from provincial health authorities and health regulators, to lawyers, notaries, physicians, nursing professionals, health care assistants, and every one of us who lives with, or is supporting, someone living with dementia. We look forward to working with all of you to support robust legislation and best practice.

Krista James
National Director, Canadian Centre for Elder Law


Canadian Elder Law Conference 2019
Bridging the Gap: Elder Law for Everyone

Join us on November 14-15 for the next Canadian Elder Law Conference with the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC. Once again, our three conference chairs will be the fabulous:

• Jan Goddard, Godard Gamage LLP (Toronto)

• Hugh McLellan, McLellan Herbert (Vancouver)

• Geoffrey W. White, Geoffrey W. White Law Corporation (Kelowna)

This year’s theme is Bridging the Gap: Elder Law for Everyone. You can look forward to sessions that consider elder law from diverse perspectives, and connect stakeholders with different expertise.

We will be circulating the conference sponsorship package shortly. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to me if you want to sponsor the conference: All sponsorship funds go toward bursaries that help people attend the conference.

The call for submissions for the Gregory K. Steele Q.C. Prize is open!

English and French language papers are welcome. Deadline to apply: May 1, 2019


Update on the Inclusive Investing Project
By Valerie LeBlanc

We continue our consultation interviews with key informants and stakeholders on the use of supported decision-making, in the investment context, by persons living with Alzheimer’s, other forms of dementia or intellectual disabilities.

Since October 2018, Project Manager and CCEL Staff Lawyer, Valerie Le Blanc, has interviewed people with lived experience, investment professionals, lawyers, academics and community agencies in British Columbia, Ontario, the United States and internationally.

The research and consultations are focused on how to facilitate supported decision-making during the investment process to maximize an investor’s access to investment options while minimizing the loss of autonomy and unnecessary intervention through court-ordered guardianship. The key research question is: How can Canadian investment advisors, adults with cognitive and decision-making challenges, and supporters incorporate supported decision making into the investment decision-making process while guarding against undue influence and financial abuse?

For more information on the Inclusive Investing: Respecting the Rights of Vulnerable Investors through Supported Decision-Making Project, please consult our project page. Read more about our upcoming consultations here.


Out and About

On February 4th, BCLI Kathleen Cunningham and staff lawyer Valerie Le Blanc attended the University of Victoria Law School's BC Legal Employers Reception, a perfect opportunity to reconnect with past summer research assistant Gurinder Cheema.

Kathleen Cunningham was honoured to be invited to attend two great events recently. One, organized by the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Seniors, aimed to discuss the development of a code of conduct to guide banks in their service delivery to seniors. The other, organized and led by the Honourable·Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women, focused on gender equality and women in leadership roles. Both events were great opportunities to engage in open conversation with the Ministers and with other stakeholders. Both encouraged and inspired us with ideas on how we can better support these priorities within our work.



March 14-15, Canberra, Australia

Australian Guardianship and Administration Council Conference 2019

Kathleen Cunningham will present on CCEL research related to supported decision-making and will participate in a plenary panel. For more details and to view the full programme, click here.

April 12, Vancouver, BC

16th Geriatric Services Conference: Connect, Collaborate, Create

CCEL will share a table with the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. Come say hello and talk with us about our work. See the Programme here.





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