What is an advance care directive?

| Wednesday April 13

Last month, as part of Seniors Week, I attended a webinar on Advance Care Directives. I was surprised to learn that only 14% of Australians currently have one in place, and that without one almost 50% of people will be unable to make their own end of life decisions. 

So what is an Advance Care Directive (ACD)? 

An ACD is a way to clearly outline your wishes and preferences in relation to the treatment and health care you receive should you be seriously ill or injured and not have the capacity to make decisions. 

An ACD may include:

  • The nomination of a person you would like to act as decision-maker if you are unable to make decisions;
  • Details of what is important to you, such as the types of care you would like to receive or refuse if you have a life-threatening injury or illness.
  • Where you would like to be cared for in the event you were dying. 

Having an ACD in place will make it easier for family and medical staff if they need to make decisions for you. 

To make an ACD, you must be 18 years and over and have decision-making capacity. If an ACD is valid, it must be followed and cannot be overridden by health professionals or family members. In NSW, an ACD can be spoken or is usually written. You can use set forms that are available on the internet or make a written statement. Making an Advance Care Directive – form and information booklet – Advance care planning (nsw.gov.au).

Ideally, this should be signed and dated, however, it does not need to be witnessed. It is important that your ACD is located in a place that is easy to find if required and it may also be added to your MyHealth Record for ease of access for medical staff. 

Kerrie O’Brien established North Shore Retirement and Aged Care Consulting to provide guidance and support to individuals and their families in planning for aged care and to assist them in identifying the most appropriate retirement and aged care options available on Sydney’s North Shore, Northern Beaches and surrounds. Offering a personalised and independent service, she is able to offer her extensive knowledge regarding all existing and upcoming aged care and retirement facilities as well as Home Care Package providers.