An advance care directive is a document that outlines your instructions and preferences for future care in the event you lose the ability to make decisions in relation to your care.
An advance care directive is not the same as an appointment of a medical treatment decision maker. Under a Medical Treatment Decision-maker appointment document, you can appoint someone you trust as your substitute decision-maker to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so.
The advance care directive will assist the appointed decision-maker when making the necessary decisions on your behalf.
Who can give an advance care directive?
Anyone can plan and give an advance care directive.
The requirement is that you must have capacity to make decisions and understand the instructions and statements that you are giving in your directive.
Note you can review your advance care directive regularly as your health or personal situation changes.
What can you include in an advance care directive?
You can include in your advance care directive the following:
- An instructional directive: This is specific instructions to your doctor or a healthcare professional about what medical treatment you consent to or refuse, which is legally binding except in limited circumstances; or
- A values directive: This is your values, religious or cultural requirements, and preferences when it comes to making medical treatment decisions and your future care.
When you are including an instructional directive, you must state within the directive that it is an ‘instructional directive’. Any statements or instructions that are unclear or uncertain can be categorised as a values directive.
Do I need my advanced care directive witnessed?
Your advanced care directive needs to be witnessed by two people, one of whom must be a registered medical practitioner.
Note that a valid advance care directive made in Victoria can be applied in other states and territories in Australia. However, there may be some limitations or additional requirements.
Should I have a directive?
An advance directive is important if you have a chronic or terminal illness and should be considered widely when future planning. It is important to think about what your wishes are and how it can be communicated to your doctor or your loved ones when you are unable to do so.
Having the conversation about future planning is a great first step. An advanced care directive will help guide your doctor or loved ones how to make the tough decisions about your care.
Contact W Legal Group
It’s never too soon to plan for your future. Contact the team at W Legal Group and we will happily assist you in forming your Advanced Care Directive plan.