An Advanced Care Directive (“Advanced Care Directive”) 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 Advanced Care Directive 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 Advanced Care Directive, 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 Advanced Care Directive include
1. Understanding the requirement for an Advanced Care Directive
It is important to understand that medical emergencies can happen at any time and therefore having an Advanced Care Directive would mean that your wishes will most likely be followed. In the absence of an Advanced Care Directive, 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 Advanced Care Directive .
2. Lifting the burden from your loved one’s shoulders by making an Advanced Care Directive
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 Advanced Care Directive should be made. This will also ensure that your treatment is consistent with your beliefs and values.
3. Legal requirements for making an Advanced Care Directive
Anyone above the age of 18 years can make an Advanced Care Directive. You can also amend your Advanced Care Directive if you feel it no longer adequately reflects your wishes. In such circumstances, the old/previous Advanced Care Directive will be revoked and the new one will become valid.
4. Consulting people to build your Advanced Care Directive
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 Advanced Care Directive after consulting all these people, as they can help you better plan and build the Advanced Care Directive to suit your beliefs and values.
5. Keeping your Advanced Care Directive safe and secure
Your Advanced Care Directive should be made available to you or your family members when they need it the most.
Therefore, at Burke Lawyers we can help you by keeping an original copy of your Advanced Care Directive safe and secured to ensure that the Advanced Care Directive is available when and where needed.
You can also upload your Advanced Care Directive to your My Health Record through myGov services. More information on how to upload documents to your My Health Record can be found HERE.
An Advanced Care Directive can only be made 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.
An Advanced Care Directive is a very important and personal document to prepare so if this article has prompted any questions or you would like to prepare an Advanced Care Directive for yourself a friend or a loved one please contact our Wills & Estates lawyers today on +61 3 9822 8588.