Certainty v Uncertainty

Advance Care Directive - Why is it so important to have one?

An AdvanceCare Directive does not force anyone to make a certain decision, but merely gives them a guide about what you would or would not prefer and avoids them having to guess. 

Decision making can be very stressful when there has been little or no previous discussion about what you may want to happen if you are no longer able to make or communicate those decisions yourself. Providing care that matches your wishes is an important approach to take; for you and your loved ones. 

It can be difficult for loved ones to make clear objective decisions about your care or life prolonging measures during a sudden emergency if they are emotional or upset. Having an Advance Care Directive in place can decrease the stress loved ones may face if they are asked to make decisions on your behalf.

When faced with a medical crisis, even family members who know us very well often struggle to make decisions, so having an ACD can help clarify some emotional issues that can be difficult to discuss in a simplified way.

Why is an Advance Care Directive important?

An Advance Care Directive allows you, your family and medical staff to work together to make decisions in your best interests, based on your condition, treatment options available and importantly, your wishes. Medical staff can use their skills, experience and their knowledge of your values and preferences to make recommendations that help with the decision-making process.

An ACD is about understanding and respecting your values which will help doctors and your loved ones make better choices, aligned with your wishes as much as possible, about your medical treatment. With this information they can feel reassured that they are respecting your wishes. It can also reduce unnecessary hospitalisation or unwanted treatments from occurring and improve your quality of life.

When families are left to make decisions about end of life care but have been given no clear guidance from you, they can often be left feeling guilty about any decisions they make, regardless of the outcome. It is therefore important that you communicate your wishes well before a medical crisis, at a time when there is no pressure and plenty of time to think about your options and discuss them with your family members.

Talking about dying can be a difficult conversation. An Advance Care Directive can open those communication lines and allow people to discuss their wishes regarding how they want to live, not just about their death. An ACD allows you to express your wishes, direct the type of care you would prefer, or not prefer and even where you would like that care to take place (for example at home or in a care facility).

With an ACD in place you know you will have some sense of control over your life even when you may not be able to communicate it.

Who do I choose to make decisions for me?

With loved ones having to make decisions on a broad range of matters including medical treatment, where you live and day to day care, you will need to choose someone who understands your values and beliefs and will be trusted to act on your wishes to make those decisions on your behalf.

The person (or people) you choose to make those decisions on your behalf will therefore require a lot of thought. This person is known as your Substitute Decision-Maker and is usually a family member or close friend.

You can find out more information about choosing your Substitute Decision-Maker, in our blog article “Who can I choose to be my SubstituteDecision-Maker?

Want to know more about Advance Care Directives and who to choose as your Substitute Decision-Maker? Get in touch directly with today’s blog writer, Probate Clerk, Nikki Harder.

You can complete an Advance Care Directive online with acdAssist

acdAssist is a guided question and answer process, that you can complete at your own speed and in your own words. It is designed to identify your wishes and needs to those who you choose to make decisions for your care when you are no longer able to make those decisions yourself. These are then included in an Advance Care Directive for you to sign.