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What is an Advance Care Directive in Home Care in Australia?

An advance care directive is a key component of advance care planning. This process allows you to plan for your future health and personal care by identifying your values, beliefs, and preferences. These preferences guide decision-making when you are unable to communicate your wishes.

Advance Care Directive

What is an Advance Care Directive?

An advance care directive, sometimes referred to as a living will, is a formal document that outlines your preferences for future care. It includes your beliefs, values, and goals, ensuring that your wishes are known and respected even when you are unable to communicate them. Additionally, an advance care directive allows you to appoint a substitute decision-maker to make decisions on your behalf.

Advance care directives vary across states and territories, with specific forms available for each region. For detailed information about the directives applicable in your area, you can visit the Advance Care Planning Australia website.

Why is an Advance Care Directive Important?

Creating an advance care directive is a vital part of advance care planning. Given the unpredictability of health issues, it's essential to have a plan that reflects your desires for the future. An advance care directive provides clarity and guidance for your loved ones and healthcare providers during a crisis, ensuring that your treatment preferences are known and respected.

How to Make an Advance Care Directive

To create a valid advance care directive, you must be over 18 and possess decision-making capacity. This means you should be able to make informed decisions about legal, medical, financial, and personal matters. Health professionals and family members are legally required to follow a valid directive.

Your doctor can provide valuable information and advice about your current health situation and potential future scenarios, which can be crucial when drafting your directive. While you don't need a lawyer, it is advisable to discuss your directive with your doctor and ensure it's signed and dated. Your substitute decision-maker and doctor can also sign it for added validity.

An advance care directive can include:

  • The person you wish to appoint as your substitute decision-maker.

  • Details of your values, life goals, and preferred outcomes.

  • Specific treatments and care preferences, including any you would refuse in the event of a life-threatening illness or injury.

There are forms available to help you write your directive. Once you have written your advance care directive, you should sign and date it. Your substitute decision-maker and your doctor can also sign it. You should then give copies of your directive to:

  • Your family.

  • Your substitute decision-maker.

  • Your hospital and doctor.

  • The ambulance service.

  • Anyone else who you feel is appropriate.

How to Select a Substitute Decision-Maker

Choosing your substitute decision-maker is a significant decision. This person will make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Your substitute decision-maker should be someone:

  • You trust.

  • Who is over 18 years old.

  • Who will listen to your values and preferences for future care.

  • Who will be comfortable making decisions in difficult situations.

Ask yourself, “Am I confident this person will make decisions based on what I would want?” You can also choose a second person as an alternate decision-maker who will step in if your first choice is unable to make decisions on your behalf.

In different Australian states and territories, substitute decision-makers may have different titles. To formalise your choice of a substitute decision-maker, complete the relevant form used in your state or territory.

Uploading Your Advance Care Directive to My Health Record

You can add your advance care directive to your My Health Record, making it accessible to your treating doctors when needed. Additionally, you can store the names of people you have shared your directive with.

Changing Your Advance Care Directive

You can change your advance care directive at any time. If you do change it, make sure anyone who received the original directive gets the updated version. The most recent version of your directive will be the one followed.

Review your advance care directive:

  • When your preferences change.

  • If your substitute decision-maker changes.

  • When your medical condition changes.

For more advice on changing your directive, see Advance Care Planning Australia.

Where to Get Help, Support, and Advice

For assistance in writing an advance care directive, visit Advance Care Planning Australia. If you're unsure where to start when talking to your loved ones, their conversation guide can help.

Conclusion of Advance Care Directive

An advance care directive is an essential process that ensures your healthcare aligns with your values and preferences, even when you can't make decisions yourself. At My Companionship, we are committed to supporting you in every step of your care journey, ensuring your wishes are respected and followed.


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