An Advanced Care Plan or Directive can be created at any age. Like your will, it’s best done early because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
Program Director of Advance Care Planning Australia, Linda Nolte, encourages people to see it as a routine part of personal and health care – for us all. She says advance care planning is incredibly important for Australians to continue living “on their own terms”.
Regardless of age or health status, the point is to plan healthcare preferences before there’s an urgent need. Documenting your values and preferences in an ‘Advance Care Directive’ ensures these will be respected if you were suddenly unable to communicate them. Carers NSW warns there are many myths about advance care planning.
Myth: My appointed Power of Attorney can consent to medical treatment on my behalf.
Fact: Powers of Attorney manage financial matters only and only after you have lost capacity. A legally appointed Enduring Guardian can consent to health care for you. There might be a clause in a Power of Attorney document which also appoints an Enduring Guardian, or it can be done separately.
Myth: An Advance Care Directive and an Advance Care Plan are the same thing.
Fact: Not at all. An Advance Care Directive, made by an adult with decision-making capacity, must be followed and cannot be overridden by anyone – including your legally appointed Enduring Guardian. However, an Advance Care Plan, documents healthcare values and preferred outcomes, is a guide that does not need to be strictly followed. The Plan is a guide for future healthcare in case you’re unable to communicate your wishes, and can be written by you or written with you by a carer or close family member.
Myth: I can record healthcare preferences in my will.
Fact: No, because a will is enacted after death – too late! To ensure your healthcare preferences are respected, you need to: Appoint an Enduring Guardian AND Complete an Advance Care Directive
Myth: An Advance Care Directive will override my requests if I am still able to make decisions myself.
Fact: No, because an Advance Care Directive is only enacted if you are unable to make decisions.
Myth: The best place to store an Advance Care Directive or plan is at home.
Fact: There’s no official place to register these documents but it’s important that your family, carer or other supporter has access to them when needed. You can also upload them to your My Health Record so that they are easily accessed.
In NSW a person does not need to use a specific form to record their wishes, therefore all Advance Care Directives must be respected, but the form is an excellent guide to what you can consider. Find the information booklet and a form to guide you here. Or ask our Community Care Advisor, Nuala Williams, for a copy when you drop in to Sydney Community Services’ Lane Cove Community Hub at 1 Pottery Lane. You can also call Nuala on 9427 6425.
Visit https://www.advancecareplanning.org.au/ for FAQs, case studies, fact sheets, guides and forms. Or call the Advance Care Planning advisory service on 1300 208 582 weekdays 9am-5pm