Plan for the future
Everyone has the right to make their own decisions. However, anyone can experience an injury or illness that means they are unable to make decisions, either temporarily or permanently.
In Victoria, there are a number of laws that enable you to plan ahead now, should a time come when you are unable to make certain decisions.
Ways that you can take control now to improve the likelihood that decisions are made as you would want them in the future include:
- appointing a medical treatment decision maker
- completing an advance care directive
- making an enduring power of attorney.
By appointing a medical treatment decision maker, you can specify who has legal authority to make medical treatment decisions for you, including procedures provided by dental and allied health practitioners, if you are unable to do so in the future.
By completing an advance care directive, you can specify your values and preferences which must be considered by your medical treatment decision maker, if you are unable to consent to medical treatment in the future. Alternatively, or in addition, you can provide instructions that your health practitioners in the future are bound to follow about specific medical treatments that they consent to or refuse.
By making an enduring power of attorney, you can choose who will make important financial and personal decisions for you, such as where you will live or what happens to your house, if you are unable to do so in the future.
If you choose to appoint a medical treatment decision maker or attorney, it is essential you only appoint someone you trust, who you are confident will be willing and able to make decisions as you would want them. Make sure you talk to them, and to your health practitioners about what is important to you. To achieve the best possible outcomes, it is important to create a partnership between the you, those important in your life — such as family members and carers — and your health practitioners.
Keep in mind, you can only appoint a medical treatment decision maker, complete an advance care directive or make an enduring power of attorney for yourself. You cannot make these legal documents on behalf of someone else.
Appointing a medical treatment decision maker and completing an advance care directive can be part of a process called advance care planning.
Find information about advance care planning at www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/havetheconversation
Information for clinicians about advance care planning is found at www.health.vic.gov.au/acp