Have you thought about what care you want to receive when you reach the end of your life? During the course of our lives we expend an enormous amount of energy planning where we want to live, what we want to achieve during our lifetimes, but we don’t give much time or thought to what we would like to happen at the end of our lives.
If you have a major health event that deprives you of the ability to make your wishes known to your family or to the health professionals responsible for your care, taking some time now to discuss what you want at the end of your life will provide vital guidance if your loved ones have to make those decisions for you.
An Advance Care Plan or Advance Directive (“Advance Care Plan”) is a way to help you communicate to your loved ones your wishes about your future health care and will help your loved ones and your health care providers to understand what is important to you and what treatment you do or do not want in the event that you are unable to communicate with those around you.
Under the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights you have the right to use an Advance Care Plan to make your health care wishes known. Examples might be the desire not to receive blood transfusions, be resuscitated or kept alive with the use of life support systems.
The Code gives a person, who has capacity to make decisions for themselves, the right to make an Advance Care Plan. When deciding on whether to follow your Advance Care Plan, your health care professional will try to ensure that:
- you had capacity at the time the Advance Care Plan was made;
- you made your Advance Care Plan of your own free will;
- you were informed and understood the decisions you were making; and
- your Advance Care Plan applies to the current circumstances, whatever they may be.
To assist the treating team considering these factors, you are encouraged to complete the section in the Plan dealing with your treatment and care choices with your health care professional and you both then sign and date this. The completed Plan is entered onto an electronic database which is available to staff if you go into hospital or to St Johns if you require assistance.
Talking about your Advance Care Plan with your loved ones and in particular your attorney for care and welfare, if you have appointed one, is an important conversation and should be an integral part of your estate planning for you.
At Harmans we have a specialist seniors team dealing with estate planning, give our Seniors Law Team a call on 03 379 7835 to arrange an appointment to discuss your situation.