How do you appoint someone to make health or medical treatment decisions on your behalf in NSW?

As part of your end of life plan it is a good idea to appoint someone to make health or medical treatment decisions for you, if you become unable to make such decisions for yourself. It is also important to identify what your values, life goals and preferred outcomes are so the person appointed to make those health and medical treatment decisions can ensure their decision making is in line with your wishes.

Appointment of Enduring Guardian

In NSW, an Enduring Guardian is the person you legally appoint to make decisions about your health and lifestyle in the event you cannot make these decisions for yourself. You appoint an Enduring Guardian by making an Appointment of Enduring Guardianship. This must be done in a statutorily mandated form. Your Enduring Guardian must be over 18 years old and must not be a paid carer. When appointing your Enduring Guardian, choose someone you can trust who can make important decisions at emotional and stressful times, is aware of your wishes and preferences, is available and contactable and understands that they won’t be paid to perform this role. It is a good idea to appoint an alternate, if your first choice of Enduring Guardian is unable or unwilling to act.

When making your Appointment of Enduring Guardian, you decide the powers or ‘functions’ that you wish to give to your Enduring Guardian. They may include making decisions such as where you live, what services are provided to you at home, and what medical treatment you receive.

Your Appointment of Enduring Guardian:

  • Can be revoked at any time if you have the mental capacity to do so.
  • Will only come into operation if or when you lose capacity and is only operational during that period.
  • Does not allow your Enduring Guardian to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf.
  • Does not allow your Enduring Guardian to do anything against the law, for example, your Enduring Guardian cannot direct your direct a doctor or any other person to actively and deliberately end your life.

Advance Care Directive

In NSW you can also prepare an Advance Care Directive that tells your Enduring Guardian (or if you have not appointed one, a Person Responsible, being someone, your doctor has asked to make decisions for you) how to make decisions on your behalf.

An Advance Care Directive supports your Appointment of Enduring Guardian by setting out:

  • Your values, life goals and preferred outcomes, for example, living well means spending time with your family and friends and maintaining your independence, living in your own home and making decisions for yourself; and
  • The treatments you would like or would refuse if you have a life-threatening illness or injury or what might unacceptable outcomes for you, for example, not being able to recognise or communicate with family and friends, not being able to speak to or be understood by others, being reliant on a breathing machine or not being able to control your bladder or bowels.

Medical advances mean that there are treatments which can keep you alive when you are seriously ill or injured, and which may prolong your life. Some people have firm ideas about how they want to live the rest of their life, including conditions or treatments that they might find unacceptable.

Advance Care Directives do not have to be made in any special form, but since the NSW Supreme Court has said that valid Advance Care Directives must be followed, they deserve your full attention.

If you want to make sure your end of life wishes are honoured and there is someone you have chosen who can make health or medical treatment decisions for you at the end of your life, call us on 1300 654 590 to make your Appointment of Enduring Guardianship and Advance Care Directive.

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