Health Care Consent, Aging and Dementia: Mapping Law and Practice in British Columbia


The Canadian Centre for Elder Law (“CCEL”) collaborated with the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia (“The Society”) to lead a project which examined the law, policy and practice of consent to health care in the context of aging and dementia. The project was funded by the Law Foundation of British Columbia. It involved extensive comparative legal research on informed consent and interrelated areas of the law, as well as community and key stakeholder consultation. The work was informed by an expert interdisciplinary advisory committee and culminated in a report identifying areas for law and practice reform and a set of plain language educational resources on health care consent rights for people living with dementia and their families.


This project aims to:

  • Document the experiences of people with dementia, their substitute decision-makers and the people who support them, with respect to use of medication and consent in BC;
  • Summarize the law in BC with respect to health care consent;
  • Map knowledge, policy issues, and legal concerns related to the use of anti-psychotics and anti-depressants for people with dementia;
  • Bridge a wide variety of social policy research with implications for legal practice;
  • Identify differing and innovative approaches taken in other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States as well as the United Kingdom and Australia vis-à-vis law and policy around health care consent, particularly with respect to older adults;
  • Suggest potential areas for law reform in BC;
  • Raise further awareness on the right to informed health care consent among British Columbians;
  • Produce a foundation of research that will support the key people engaged in this issue to appreciate the topic from a perspective that respects the rights of older adults, people with dementia, substitute decision-makers, family members and those who support people receiving treatment; and
  • Publish at least one public legal education resource for people with dementia, substitute decision-makers and/or loved ones focused on helping people to understand their rights.

This project included significant consultation, including:

  • A range of experts on the topic of medication, informed consent and older adults with dementia; and
  • People living with dementia, family members and substitute decision-makers with an opportunity to share their experiences in relation to informed consent, medication and treatment for adults living with dementia.

Please contact Krista James at [email protected] if you would like to share your views.

This project has been made possible thanks to generous funding from the Law Foundation of British Columbia.

JPEG format Black LFBC

Related tools

CCEL developed a set of resources on the decision-making rights of people living with dementia in collaboration with the Alzheimer Society of BC. This set contains three short animated videos, and a booklet available in English, French, Traditional Chinese and Punjabi. Click here to view the videos and access the booklet.

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Below you will find additional, relevant and specific documentation, backgrounders, research, resources, media releases and summaries that have been, or will be incorporated into our final publications and study papers.

If you have questions about these or other specific documents, please reach out to BCLI using our contact page or at the bottom of each page of our website.