What is an Advance Health Directive?

What is an Advance Health Directive?

An Advance Health Directive (or AHD) is a formal document containing instructions for your prospective medical care. This is regulated under the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 (Qld). The Directive enters into effect only once you are incapable of making your own judgments.

What can an Advance Health Directive be used for?

A Directive can be used to provide or refuse permission to future medical care in the event that you cannot reach these types of decisions for yourself. It also allows you to appoint a ‘health attorney’ for substitute decision-making.

The Directive can express your wishes in a general manner, for instance stating that you want to get every accessible treatment. The Directive can further include information that health care professionals should be aware of concerning yourself, such as any particular health issues, allergies or religious, faith based or cultural beliefs that may affect your treatment. It may also be used for special guidelines for example if or not you would like to be given life-sustaining procedures in the event, for example, that you became terminally ill, sustained brain damage to a level that you were unable to communicate, or had an ailment of such seriousness that you would not recover.

What are the requirements of a valid Advance Health Directive?

For any Directive to be binding it has to be:

  • in the correct prescribed form
  • entered into and executed by an individual aged 18 years or over who has been certified as possessing capacity
  • signed by an eligible witness

How is the Advance Health Directive revised?

You can easily change or annul your Directive at any time, provided you continue to be mentally capable of doing so. If you want to make major changes, you should annul the existing Directive and create a new one. Lesser changes can be done to the current Directive by inserting amendments and signing beside each change.

What is the best time to make an Advanced Health Directive?

It is ideal to create a Directive now, before any urgent health circumstances arise. If you already have a health condition that probably will impair your decision making abilities, it is especially important to make a Directive prior to this takes place. It is advisable that you consult your GP before filling in the document.

What should you do with the Advance Health Directive once you have completed it?

Hold the Directive in a safe place. It is recommended to provide a copy to your doctor, Enduring Guardian (if you have an EPA already in place), a relative or friend and your lawyer if you would like.