Definitions of commonly used words and phrases

acdAssist

An online advance care planning tool which guides you through identifying your life (including health care wishes) priorities if you are no longer able to decide or act on those priorities by yourself. It helps you to put your wishes and priorities into words and will result in your wishes being professionally drafted in a legal Advance Care Directive.

Advance Care Directive (ACD)

A legally binding document which sets out your future health care, end of life, priorities for life, values and beliefs, living and health care arrangements and other lifestyle preferences (not financial decisions) when you no longer have capacity to make those decisions.

Advance care planning

Making choices about your future lifestyle and care to enable you to live the life you choose in the event that you lose capacity to make those decisions.

Anticipatory Directions

A legal document which specifies the types of medical treatment that you want or do not want in the event that you are unable to make those decisions and you are in either the terminal phase of a terminal illness or a persistent vegetative state.
From 1 July 2014 these documents were replaced by Advance Care Directives. Documents signed prior to 1 July 2014 are still valid.

Appointed person

See ‘Substitute Decision Maker’.

Attorney

Someone appointed to make property and financial decisions on your behalf either under a Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney.

Binding refusals

Refusal to specific medical treatment, health care and/or life sustaining measures. You must specify when the refusal applies.

Capacity

Whether or not you have the ability to make decisions for yourself such as understanding your medical problem(s), the benefits of the treatment being offered, its associated risks and communicating your decision.

Cognitive impairment

Can be a short-term or permanent condition which affects someone’s memory or their ability to pay attention or communicate and understand situations.

CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation)

A combination of chest and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation which delivers oxygen and restores blood circulation to a person who is not breathing or whose heart has stopped.

Degenerative disease

Where your organs or tissues degenerate over a period of time for example, cancer, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.

Donor

The person making an Advance Care Directive.

Dying wishes

Your wishes as to where you would prefer to die, who you would like to be with you in your final days, any spiritual or religious preferences and if you want to donate your organs or tissues.

End of life care

Care that you receive in the final stages of your life enabling you to die with dignity.

cEnduring Power of Guardianship (EPOG)

A legal document which appoints a representative (known as a guardian) to make personal, medical and lifestyle decisions for you if you are unable to do so.

From 1 July 2014 these documents were replaced by Advance Care Directives. Documents signed prior to 1 July 2014 are still valid.

Extraordinary life sustaining treatment

Measures which artificially keep you alive or bring you back to life such as CPR, life support and mechanical intravenous nutrition.

Life-prolonging measures or Life-sustaining treatment

Treatment that keeps you alive artificially or brings you back to life but doesn’t improve your health, such as your heart being restarted (CPR), life support with machines and mechanical ventilators, renal dialysis, tube feeding or intravenous nutrition.

Medical Power of Attorney

A legal document in which you appoint a medical agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so.

From 1 July 2014 these documents were replaced by Advance Care Directives. Documents signed prior to 1 July 2014 are still valid.

Palliative care

Care that you receive when you are being treated for a chronic or terminal illness. It aims to improve your quality of life (whether physically or spiritually), prevent suffering and manage your pain until you die.

Power of Attorney and Enduring Power of Attorney

A legal document in which you appoint someone (an attorney) to make property and financial decisions for you for a fixed period of time, while you still have decision making capacity. A Power of Attorney ceases at the end of the fixed period or when you can no longer make decisions for yourself, whichever happens first, unless you have made an Enduring Power of Attorney.
Under an Enduring Power of Attorney your attorney(s) can act for you either immediately or when you can no longer make decisions for yourself. An Enduring Power of Attorney remains valid after you no longer have decision making capacity.

Quality of life

Means something different to everyone. It can include an element of life satisfaction which may mean being able to live independently at home or recognising and communicating with people you love. It can also cover physical, mental, emotional and social aspects of your life.

Statement of Wishes

A summary of the matters you have identified as being important to you, including any explanations or directions you have given in your own words. It has no legal effect. Your Advance Care Directive (which does have legal effect) will be prepared on the basis of the contents of your Statement of Wishes.

Substitute Decision-Maker (SDM)

The person(s) you appoint to make decisions on your behalf to implement the wishes set out in your Advance Care Directive, including making decisions about your future health care, end of life and other personal decisions. They ‘step into your shoes’ when making decisions for you.

Together

Your Substitute Decision-Makers must act unanimously when making decisions for you.

Together or separately

Your Substitute Decision-Makers can act either together or individually when making decisions for you.