A Representation Agreement Section 9 (RA9) is a legally enforceable document for authorizing someone—a Representative—to assist you or to act on your behalf for health and personal care matters. The RA9 covers decisions about living arrangements, lifestyle preferences, minor and major health care, and the choice of life support. The RA9 does not cover financial or legal affairs; for this you need to create a Power of Attorney.
As long as you are able to communicate, you can consent to or refuse medical treatment, and let others know what kind of health and personal care you want. An RA9 gives someone you appoint the authority to speak on your behalf, if the situation arises when you are no longer capable. To be considered capable of creating an RA9, you must understand the types of decisions covered and the effect of appointing a Representative.
A ‘living will’ is not a legal document in BC or Canada. This originated as an informal way for people to express wishes to refuse health care treatments that might prolong their end-of-life. The RA9 covers many more quality-of-life situations than a living will.
The best time to make an RA9 is before a crisis occurs, because a health crisis might affect your capability to make one. If you make an RA9 in advance, you can always revoke/cancel it and make a new one. Most people will make more than one Representation Agreement in their lifetime.
You do not have to consult a legal professional to make an RA9. The Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre is a non-profit, charitable organization which can guide you through the process of creating legal documents, including an RA9.
The intention of a Representation Agreement is to strengthen or create a personal support network around an adult—so they have help when ill or injured and when dealing with service systems. Most people name a spouse, family member, or friend in their Agreement. Those you appoint may live in another city, province, or country. When choosing someone to make decisions on your behalf, as well as an Alternate in case your Representative is not available, consider your relationship with them, their skills and abilities, their willingness to work with others named in your Agreement, and their respect for your wishes and values.
Without an RA9, health authorities will look for direction from a Temporary Substitute Decision Maker (TSDM); they will select someone from a next-of-kin and friend list to speak for you regarding a particular decision. In general, a Representative has more authority and is not time-limited. Also, you choose the Representative; a TSDM is selected for you.
A Representation Agreement is the only way to authorize someone — called your Representative — to assist you or to act on your behalf for health care and personal care matters.
Summarized by Margaret Verschuur