An Advanced Care Directive (“ACD”) is a legally binding document that helps an individual express his or her wishes about future medical treatments under the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016. It is important to note that an ACD provides a mechanism for patient autonomy to be respected in the event that the individual loses decision making capacity.
Although terminally ill patients and those receiving end-of-life care generally prefer having an ACD, an individual may choose to have the document for other reasons as well. For example, an individual may wish to express that they do not want to receive any kind of treatment or also for peace of mind, in case of unforeseen event.
Five things to consider when making an ACD include
1. Understanding the requirement for an ACD
It is important to understand that medical emergencies can happen at any time and therefore having an ACD would mean that your wishes will most likely be followed. In the absence of an ACD, doctors can take treatment decisions and those may not be line with what you want. Therefore, there is never a right time to have an ACD.
2. Lifting the burden off your loved one’s shoulders
Not receiving the kind of end-of-life care that you wish for can be a traumatising experience for everyone involved including your children or spouse. There is unnecessary stress and suffering in such circumstances. Therefore, to eliminate suffering and to ensure peace of mind, an ACD should be made. This will also ensure that your treatment is consistent with your beliefs and values.
3. Legal requirements for making an ACD
Any one above the age of 18 years can be appointed as the medical decision maker in an ACD. You can also amend your ACD. In such circumstances, the old/previous ACD will be revoked and the new one will become valid.
4. Consulting people to build your ACD
It normally takes a team to take care of an individual. The team is inclusive of doctors, nurses, carers and your loved ones. You must therefore build your ACD after consulting all these people, as they can help you better plan and build the ACD to suit your beliefs and values.
5. Keeping your ACD safe and secure
ACD should be made available to you or your family members when they need it the most. Therefore, we at Burke & Associate Lawyers can help you with keeping your ACD safe and secured and can also update it in your online health record. We will ensure that the ACD is available when and where needed.
Advance care directives can only be given by a person with decision making capacity in relation to each statement in the directive. The individual must be able to understand the nature and effect of each statement in the directive before signing the document.
If you require assistance, please feel free to contact us. Our Wills & Estates Team will be able to assist you.