Friday, 1 June 2018
Author: Jillene Peters
If you ended up in a situation where you were in the final stages of a terminal illness, or in a vegetative state where recovery was an unrealistic prospect, what could you have done to make your wishes for your health care known in advance?
A living will, more correctly called an “advance directive”, is defined in the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights as “a written or oral directive – a) by which a consumer makes a choice about possible future health care procedures; and b) that is intended to be effective only when he or she is incompetent”.
If you would like to make an advance directive (living will), there are some considerations regarding its timing and value as follows:
The types of situation in which advance directives may be helpful to your health care practitioners are:
The type of instructions which your advance directive might contain are, for example:
If you make an advance directive, you should ensure that your health care providers, family, lawyer and religious advisor (if applicable) know that you have one and are aware of its contents. If necessary, provide them with a copy.
Your advance directive takes priority over an enduring power of attorney in relation to personal care and welfare.
People in the health care sector are appreciative if a patient has an advance directive already in place, because they know what the patient’s wishes are, and can take them into account in formulating a health care plan for the patient.
When you go to see your lawyer to discuss matters such as estate planning, making a will and enduring powers of attorney, you could consider also making an advance directive to provide clarity for your family, health professionals and future caregivers, about your health care wishes.
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