Your Health: A Guide

We encourage all of our patients to be proactive in their health and to partner with us in their unique healthcare journey.

The guide is fairly extensive. You can use the Table of Contents (which will stay with you) to navigate to different section and to see where you are.

Disclaimer: Links to third party information do not necessarily represent the opinion of STAR Family Health Team. STAR Family Health Team does not take any responsibility whatsoever for such third party information.

Table of Contents

Child & Teen Health

Chronic Diseases & Conditions

Advance Care Planning

Your health or personal care circumstances can change quickly and without warning. None of us knows what tomorrow will bring. We cannot always predict if, or when, we will need to rely on others to make health or personal care decisions for us, or when we will be called on to make these decisions for another family member.

In Ontario, the law requires all health care providers to get informed consent, or refusal of consent, before providing a patient with any treatment or care. Health practitioners must tell you about your illness and what may be done to treat you. You then have the right to make a decision and agree to or refuse the treatments offered. This is called health care consent: it is a basic patient right to decide what health care to receive.

If you are not mentally capable, the health practitioner will turn to another person, your substitute decision maker, who will then speak for you and make the decisions about your care. Advance care planning lets you know who would speak for you.

Consent for medical treatment always comes from a person: either the mentally capable person or their substitute decision maker(s).

In Ontario, advance care planning (ACP) is

  • Confirming your substitute decision maker(s) (SDMs); and
  • Communicating your wishes, values and beliefs about care to help your SDM(s) make health and personal care decisions for you if you become mentally incapable of doing so for yourself.

Advance care planning involves a few meaningful steps:

  • Think about your values, beliefs and wishes for future care
  • Know who your Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) is. Someone who is willing and able to speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself.
  • Start the conversation: Talk about your values, beliefs and wishes with your SDM, family, friends, and your doctor.

Advance care planning is not about decisions. It is about preparing you, and your future substitute decision maker(s), for a time when you may not be able to make your own health or personal care decisions because of your lack of mental capacity. At that time, your future SDM would step in to give or refuse consent for treatment.

Did you know that everyone in Ontario has an SDM even if he or she has never prepared a Power of Attorney for Personal Care appointing someone to act in that role? The Health Care Consent Act includes a hierarchy of automatic SDMs, as defined by law, which identifies the person who would automatically be your substitute decision maker.

If you feel your automatic SDM will not fully represent your wishes, values and beliefs then you can choose a person or more than one person to act as your SDM by preparing a document called a Power of Attorney for Personal Care (POAPC).

As you embark on this process of Advanced Care Planning, “Speak Up Ontario”  has several resources and tools to support your journey.

Other resources you may find helpful:

How to determine your Substitute Decision Maker

This resource can help you become familiar with advance care planning in Ontario.

Substitute Decision Maker and Powers of Attorney for Personal Care

Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) is a term used in Ontario law for the person who would make health and personal care decisions on your behalf if in the event you are unable to speak for yourself.

There Are Two Ways to Identify Who Would Be Your SDM in Ontario:

  1. Every person in the province of Ontario has an automatic SDM through the Health Care Consent Act (1996). This is a hierarchy, or ranked listing, of individuals listed by their association with you. The highest available, capable, and willing person on this list will assume, on your behalf, this automatic SDM status. You don’t have to do anything to have this automatic SDM make your health and treatment decisions. They will “step-in” to make decisions for you, in the event that you become mentally incapable and/or unable to speak for yourself.

or:

  1. If you feel that your automatic SDM will not adequately represent your beliefs, values and wishes for your healthcare needs and treatment decisions, if you should lose the capability to advocate for yourself, then you can choose now, a specific person, or more than one person, to act as your SDM, by completing a document called a Power of Attorney for Personal Care (POAPC). This person or persons replaces the role of the automatic SDM in making any healthcare decisions on your behalf. It is important to know that for a POAPC form to be valid that the individual completing it must understand the nature and purpose of the document and be mentally capable, and it must be signed by the individual:
  • voluntarily, and of their own free will, and
  • in the presence of two witnesses

Also, the two witnesses must sign the document in front of the individual who has completed the form.

Note: the word “attorney” here does not mean lawyer. In this case, “attorney” refers to the person or persons an individual has chosen to act on their behalf. They are a type of substitute decision maker.

Status of Living Wills and Advanced Directives in the province of Ontario

  • Documents called “Advanced Directives” or “Living Wills” which are often associated with documenting one’s wishes for future treatment have no legal status in the province of Ontario.
  • In Ontario, the only part of advance care planning that must be done in writing is when a person wants to name someone to be their Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) who is not their automatic SDM. Then the person is required to complete a Power of Attorney for Personal Care (POAPC) document. A person may want to seek the advice of a lawyer to complete a POAPC, but it is not necessary.
  • Advance Care Planning surrounding communicating a person’s beliefs, values and wishes to guide the SDM may be done orally, in writing, or be communicated by alternative means, such as a video recording.

Important things to remember about your care and treatment options, surrounding the term consent:

  • Consent for treatment and care must come from a capable person (you or your SDM) not from a document.
  • Consent is required for all treatments or a plan of treatment based on the person’s current health condition.
  • Consent must be informed. This means that a health care provider (e.g. doctor) must explain the risks, benefits, side effects, alternatives, and what would happen if the patient refused treatment.
  • If a person is unable to speak for themselves or is not mentally capable, the person’s automatic SDM or the person named in the POAPC document will be asked to make treatment/care decisions on your behalf.
  • Advance Care Planning is not consent for treatment. Advance Care Planning is the process by which a person prepares their SDM for giving consent on their behalf, in the future.

Recommended resources:

Palliative and End-of-Life Care

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative Care refers to a holistic, patient-family centered approach to care when a patient is facing a serious, life-limiting illness. The focus is on meeting the needs of the patient, which includes making efforts to support the physical, psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual needs. It also includes measures to relieve any suffering and improving overall quality of life for patients and their families at all stages of the illness, as early as the initial diagnosis and throughout the individual phases of illness.

What Is Hospice?

Hospice is a special model of care for patients who are in the late phase of an incurable illness and wish to receive end-of-life care at home or in a specialized care setting. The care focuses on providing comfort measures, supporting the patient in the provision of psychosocial and spiritual needs and ensuring the inclusion of family in a holistic approach to the care of their loved one.

The following websites provide a comprehensive list of services and programs to support patients and their families concerning Palliative and End-of-Life Care.

General Screening & Health Promotion

This section provides a list of web-based resources to inform patients, their families and caregivers about a variety of health care topices.

Cancer Screening

My CancerIQ – Provided by Cancer Care Ontario, complete a cancer risk assessment and reveive a personalized action plan.

Melanoma Prevention and Detection 

Breast Cancer Screening – Mammograms

Evidence shows that regular mammograms every 2 years for women age 50 and over are the most effective way to detect breast cancer early.

Your chances of getting breast cancer increases as you get older. More than 80% of breast canncers are found in women over 50 years old, and most women diagnoses with breast cancer have to family history of the disease. Regular mammograms can help to find breast cancer when it is small and hard to detect.

Ministry of Health and Long Term Care

Cervical Cancer Screening – Pap Smears

It is important for all women to have pap smears done regularly as they can find the easliest signs of cervical cancer. If caught early, the change of curing cervical cancer is very high. Pap smears also can find infections and abnormal cervical cells that cn turn into cancer cells. Treatment can prevent most cases of cervical cancer from developming.

Women who are 21 years or older should have a regulas pap smear.

Ministry of Health and Long Term Care

Colon Cancer Screening – FOBT Test or Colonoscopy

It is recommended that you get screened for colorectal cancer with an FOBT kit every two years if you are 50 years of age and older and are at average risk for colorectal cancer. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer in a first degree relative (parent, sibling or child) or have symptoms, it is recommended that a colonoscopy is done to screen for colorectal cancer.

Ministry of Health and Long Term Care

Health and Wellness

Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) – Ontario residents are eligible for provincially funded health coverage (OHIP). A resident of Ontario must have a health card to show that he/she is entitled to health care services paid for by OHIP.

Dr. Mike Evans – This link provides a series of engaging evidence-based health videos and information on a variety of topics using a very creative method (i.e. 23 and 1/2 Hours: What is the Single Best Thing We Can Do For Our Health, Health Eating 101, Concussion Management, 10:90 Stress, etc.).

Healthy Canadians – Find reliable, easy-to-understand health and safety information (healthy living campaigns, links to advisories, warnings and recalls) to help you protect yourself and your family, make positive health choices, improve your health and stay healthy.

Participaction – Provides information on the benedites of physical activity, easy ways to start, guidelines, etc.

Health Care Connect – A Program that helps you find a doctor or nurse practitioner if you don’t have one. You can also use the program to change family health care providers, but only after you drop off your current family health care provider’s patient list.

 

Immunizations

Smoking Cessation

Cessation (ces-sa-tion)

the fact or process of ending or being brough to an end

Travel Health

If you are planning on travelling you should consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

Mental Health & Addictions

Addiction Support

Canada’s leading mental health and addiction teaching hospital. CAMH combines clinical care, research, policy development, eduction, health promotion and prevention to transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues.

Funded by the Government of Ontario, ConnexOntario provides free and confidential health services information for perople experiencing problems with alcohol and drugs, mental illness or gambling.

Alcohol, Drug & Cambling Counselling Centre

As one of the premier addiction recovery facilities in Canada, Addiction Canada offers a number of different settings, location and actual programs depending on your needs and financial situation. They offer focused approaches to recovery requiring time and effort and an aftercare program that involved continuous support for 10 months after the initial treatment ends.

Located on 50-acres on the banks of the Speed River in Guelph, Ontario, Homewood Health helps to improve the lives of people in the community and throughout Canada by delivering highly specialized care.

Smoking Cessation

Cessation (ces-sa-tion)

the fact or process of ending or being brought to an end

Related Links
Resources/Fact Sheets
Perth County Smoking Cessation Services

Provides support over the phone, online and by text.

STAR Family Health Team – Provides 1-on-1 counselling and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) when available for patients of the STAR Family Health Team.

Perth District Health Unit – Provides counselling, quit kits and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) when available.

Provides counselling and support, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) when available for clients of Choices for Change.

Children & Teens

Provides resources to help you stay mentally fit and healthy. 

Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) works to identify and develop solutions to important policy issues affecting the child and youth mental health sector. They represent more than 85 accredited community-based children’s mental health centres that provide treatment and support to children, youth and families.

Offering a number of services to meet a broad range of mental health concerns. These services, funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth are consistent with the Core Services that should be available in every community across Ontario.

Kids Help Phone is always there for you. No matter what you want to talk about, we’re here to listen. No judgment, totally private, 24/7. 

Offers support through the provision of current and relevant information to kids, parents, educators and service providers within Elgin, Huron, London/Middlesex, Perth and Oxford Counties.

Offers helpful information, resources and links.

An award-winning, non-profit mental health program that engages youth, emerging adults and the professionals who serve them to co-develop reliable and relevant resources.

Parenting resources including videos on topics such as: helping children & families cope with serious illness; support for special challenges faced by military families; tips, strategies and activities to help with challenges that come with divorce; helping your child through grief and other topics including bedtime routine, bully prevention, preparing your child for a doctor appointment, potty training, etc. 

a social anxiety workbook that’s free to download

Nutrition

Healthy eating is important for everyone. To maintain a healthy body, have energy to do the things you enjoy and help prevent chronic diseases, wise nutrition choices are important! 

Enjoying a variety of foods in the right amount is the first step to healthy eating.  You can use Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating  as a guide to know how much and what to eat based on your age and gender.

Here are a variety of resources and tips to help you make healthy choices a part of your every day routine!

Food Intake Tracking

Did you know that food journaling can help you identify patterns to your eating and find areas that you can make healthy changes?  You can track using an electronic version, or by hand! Here are some resources that you can use:

Food Allergies

Meal Planning

Did you know that planning meals not only helps you get balanced, good tasting, nutritious meals, but it also saves you money and time! 

Other surprising benefits of meal planning and family meals are that children’s grades in school will likely be better and parents and children have a better relationship with one another.  To help with planning meals, you can use these tools:

 

EatRight Ontario has a personalized meal planning tool  that makes printable weekly menus complete with recipes, healthy eating tips!

Still don’t know what to cook?  Use these websites and apps for recipe ideas and inspiration:

Dietitians of Canada Cookspiration! (also an App for iphone, ipad and Android)

EatRight Ontario recipe page

Need Diabetes Friendly Recipes? Check out the Canadian Diabetes Association

Smart Shopping

Shop Smart! Learning how to choose the best product by reading labels while grocery shopping is a great step towards healthy eating!  Here are some great resources to help you navigate the grocery store:

Make informed food choices by using the %Daily Value (%DV) on food labels!

Need more help? 

Did you know that there is a Registered Dietitian available to answer all your nutrition questions in store at Zehrs Great Food in Stratford!  Contact Amanda at 519-301-0827 for information on grocery store tours, food demos and cooking classes information.

Pregnancy, Postpartum & Parenting

This section provides a list of web-based resources to offer helpful information to families and parents/moms to-be on a wide range of pregnancy and parenting topics.

Breastfeeding

Thier mission is to encourage, promote and provide mother-to-mother breastfeeding support and educational opportunities as an important contribution to the health of children, families and society.

Helpful information and resources offered by the Perth District Health Unit including a Breastfeeding Plan, and Getting Started With Breastfeeding.

Information and resources provided by the Oxford County Health Unit.

Information provided by Caring for Kids covering topics like what breastfeeding mothers should eat, how to know when it’s time for a feeding, how to know if your baby is feeding well, etc.

Growth & Development

Information provided by the Perth District Health Unit.

A free program for expectant parents and families with children from birth to 6 years of age.

An age-paced, user-friendly, parenting and information newsletter, provided by the Oxford County Health Unit, that is designed to support and educate parents about a variety of topics related to your young children up to 6 years of age.

Information provided by Caring for Kids on Healthy Development, Learning, Play, etc.

Healthy Pregnancy

Provides information on preparing for a baby to growth and development and everything in between.

Helpful information offered by the Oxford County Health Unit.

Information and resources provided by the Huron County Health Unit.

Postpartum

Information and resources provided by the Huron County Health Unit.

Helpful information and support provided by Mother Reach.

A weekly drop-in support group for new mothers available in Oxford County.

Information on the signs of depression, how it affects pregnant women, the difference between “baby blues” and postpartum depression, etc.

Seniors Health

Sexual Health

Canada’s only national organization that helps all Canadians with issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. PFLAG Canada supports, educates and provides resources to all individuals with questions or concerns, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sports Related Health

Other Useful Resources

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