The best way to ensure your family and health professionals provide you with the health care you wish for is to:
- Have a properly completed and witnessed Advance Health Care Plan. Depending on which Australian State you live in, the paperwork is slightly different from State to State, but the effect is that the Plan is a legal document that tells your family and carers, including professional health providers, your wishes for treatment and care, should you not have the capacity to tell them yourself.
- Discuss your choices and decisions with family members and close friends, prior to finalising the Plan, so your choices are not a surprise to anyone. This also limits the possibility for family disputes, in the event some family members or close friends claim you would never have wanted the family to make the decisions they have to.
- Ideally, provide a copy to your GP and other regular health providers, as well as those people you have named as alternate decision-makers for you, in the event you cannot make decisions yourself.
How to create an Advance Health Care Plan?
There are do-it-yourself versions of the document you can access and complete – if you wish to take this route, make sure you use the version of the document created by the government of the State you live in, and DO NOT change the content of the document from the government template. The document can be daunting to complete, with the use of various (and some find, confusing) medical terms and choices. There are also strict requirements regarding who you can appoint as your alternate decision-makers, who can witness the document and other similar requirements.
The document will also need input from your GP – this helps to ensure that you truly understand the impact of the document you are signing and that you are certain about the choices you have stated in the document.
If you are confident and competent in completing government documents, consider a DIY approach. However, if after having a look at the template document, or if you simply don’t want the hassle of having to navigate through the complex document by yourself, seek professional help.