One in three advance care directives in nursing homes prove pointless

Article published 28 January 2020

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RESEARCH led by Advance Care Planning Australia found almost a third of Advance Care Directives (ACDs) audited in Australian residential aged care facilities to be invalid.

An ACD is a written record of someone’s preferences for future care, typically end-of-life care. An ACD will outline the preferred outcomes or directions about care, at a time when someone may not be able to communicate these decisions themselves.

In the previous issue of THE VOICE an article outlined some of the pitfalls currently affecting ACDs. Doctors do not always follow the directions of an ACD because they don’t agree, or ACDs were found to be old, vague or incoherent.

The research of Advance Care Planning Australia found 30 per cent of ACDs in residential aged care had been completed by someone else on behalf of a person lacking capacity.

ACDs are only legal when completed and signed by a person with decision-making capacity.

Advance Care Planning Australia says that the potential consequence is that aged care residents are denied access to medical treatment they would have wanted or receive treatment they would have wanted to avoid.

These findings strongly suggest that advance care planning must start earlier. Advance Care Planning Australia offers a range of free resources such as access to legal forms and resources and a National Advisory Service that you can contact on 1300 208 582 Monday to Friday.

You can also ring CPSA head office on 1800 451 488 to receive an Advance Care Directive package issued by the NSW Government that will assist you in completing an ACD.

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