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Advance Care Directives

What is Advance Care Directives (ACD)?

An Advance Care Directive is a legal document that allows you to write down your wishes, preferences and instructions for your future health care, end of life, living arrangements and personal matters. It also allows you to appoint one or more Substitute Decision-Makers to make these decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them for yourself.
It will give you peace of mind to know that your wishes are made clear to those caring for you when you are unable to make decisions for yourself. If you don’t have an Advance Care Directive, your loved ones may have to make some important decisions about your life and health care with little idea of your wishes.
Please note that this document is not a Will, and as such, will cease to be effective upon your death.

How to appoint substitute decision-makers?

A Substitute Decision-Maker is an adult(s) you choose to make decisions about your future health care, end of life, living arrangements and personal matters if you are unable to make them for yourself. This person(s) must try to make decisions they believe you would have made for yourself in the same circumstances, had you been able to.

Your Substitute Decision-Maker cannot make legal or financial decisions on your behalf (this can be done by appointing an Enduring Power of Attorney).

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WHAT IS INCLUDED IN AN ADVANCE CARE DIRECTIVE?

An Advance Care Directive will usually address the following: –

  • What is important to you about your life and health (for example, continuing relationships with family and friends, continuing to be able to see your pets, remaining independent, and religious beliefs etc.)
  • Outcomes you wish to avoid (for example, your wishes for healthcare which prolongs life, the situation where you are unable to recognise family and friends, the situation where you are in a coma etc.)
  • Your dying wishes (for example, where you would prefer to die, who you would want to be there, religious or cultural traditions, organ donation, your burial or cremation preferences etc.)
  • Where you wish to live (for example, whether you wish to remain at home or go into supported care etc.)
  • Healthcare you prefer (for example, medical treatment, mental health treatment, emergency care, life-sustaining treatment etc.)
  • Other personal arrangements (for example, cultural or spiritual matters, employment, care of children, activities you enjoy, grooming requirements etc.)

Can I refuse a PARTICULAR HEALTHCARE?

An Advance Care Directive can include a binding refusal of healthcare. Your treating medical practitioners and your Substitute Decision-Makers are bound to abide by your refusal of particular healthcare.

For example, in the situation where you are in a coma or a persistent vegetative state, you may wish to refuse the application of life support systems.

You can specify the situations in which you wish for a refusal of healthcare to apply in the Advance Care Directive form.

You are unable to refuse compulsory mental health treatment as specified in a community or involuntary treatment order.

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