Since 1st July 2014 this new style of document in South Australia has replaced the older documents known as Medical Power of Attorney, Enduring Power of Guardianship and Natural Death Anticipatory Directive.
This Advance Care Directive document allows you to appoint one or more persons to act as your Substitute Decision Maker, to make decisions for you about your medical & health care treatment and accommodation issues if you’re unable to do so for yourself. This can make all the difference between ensuring your wishes are met in very stressful times, and having treatment and care almost forced upon you against your wishes.
An Advance Care Directive is a legal form that allows people over the age of 18 years to state their wishes, preferences and instructions for future health care, end of life, living arrangements and personal matters and/or
An Advance Care Directive cannot be used to make financial decisions. This requires a different document known as a Power of Attorney.
An Advance Care Directive can include Do Not Resuscitate and similar end-of-life commands. If you get to the end of your natural life-span, and there’s no hope of recovery, you might want to tell your doctors not to revive you once you die. But what happens if you can’t express your wishes at that point? This document allows you to tell your doctors what you want in advance – so you don’t end up like the tragic story of American lady Terry Schiavo (who was in a coma for 12 years before the Courts finally agreed with her husband in a battle against her parents to remove the artificial life-support.)
That’s a lot of pain and trauma you can spare your family. Note: this is NOT euthanasia. It is not taking steps to end your life prematurely. It is simply preventing (if unwanted) the artificial prolonging of life, beyond the point which God or Nature intended, and ONLY in precisely-defined and very specific circumstances. A lot of people have very strong opinions about end-of-life decisions. Whatever your beliefs, isn’t it better to take control (and responsibility) for them, and not force your loved-ones to have to make an agonising moral decision on your behalf, or battle opposing opinions?
Some people might be tempted to create a DIY Advance Care Directive. Be VERY careful! There are plenty of tricks and traps people can fall into here, and any mistakes you make probably will not become apparent until the document needs to be used.
This often in a crisis situation, when your loved ones are stressed and frightened. The last thing they’ll need then is to try to fix the problems and procedural irregularities you made in your innocence, when you tried to wade through the 49-page ACD booklet. Some of those problems will not be able to fixed at all. Don’t forget, once you have lost your capacity (which is the very eventuality for which you are creating this Advance Care Directive in the first place) you won’t be able to fix those problems at that point. It will be too late.
It is like insurance. You cannot apply for insurance after the bushfire has swept through your property. You need to get it in place and properly setup BEFORE the disaster strikes. So it is with Advance Care Directives. You and your family NEED you to get this right, and it must be done before you lose your capacity. No-one can predict the future, and illness & accidents can happen at anytime to anyone. Don’t put this off.
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