Making medical decisions
What is an Advance Health Directive?
An Advance Health Directive is a legal document which lets you say what you want to happen to you. For example, you might decide to consent to or refuse future medical treatment in certain situations. You must be an adult with full legal capacity to make an Advance Health Directive.
What is an enduring guardian?
An enduring guardian is someone you appoint to make personal and lifestyle decisions for you if you lose the capacity to make these decisions for yourself. It is similar to guardianship, except the decision of who to appoint is made in advance, by you, when you have legal capacity.
An enduring guardian is appointed using a legal document called an enduring power of guardianship. This document allows you to choose one or more people to make lifestyle decisions for you. You have the option of allowing your enduring guardian to make medical decisions for you in case you lose capacity.
Can I use both options?
Yes, you can.
For example, you might make an Advance Health Directive to cover what to do in certain situations, but also appoint someone as your enduring guardian to make medical decisions in situations you did not expect could happen, or about things that are not covered by your Advance Health Directive.
If your Advance Health Directive applies to the medical decision, it will be followed instead of asking for a decision from an enduring guardian.
What will happen if I haven't planned for my future medical decisions?
If you have not made an Advance Health Directive or appointed an enduring guardian, the law allows certain people to make decisions about your treatment. This includes your spouse or de facto partner, children, parents, siblings, unpaid carers, and close friends.
To make decisions for you, they must be over 18, have full legal capacity, be willing to make the decisions, and have maintained a close personal relationship with you.
In some circumstances, an application may need to be made to the State Administrative Tribunal to appoint a guardian to make medical decisions for you.
Legal Aid WA's Seniors Rights and Advocacy Service can assist with planning for the future.
The Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help draft an enduring power of guardianship (a small fee applies).
The eCourts Portal of Western Australia has a very useful section on guardianship and administration. This information is from the State Administrative Tribunal about a range of topics related to decision making and the options available for people who may no longer be able to make reasonable decisions for themselves. This includes the forms and kits you may need, as well as the ability to lodge an application with the State Administrative Tribunal.
Office of the Public Advocate
Advance Health Directives
Information on why to make an Advance Health Directive, including an information sheet and brochures.
Enduring Power of Guardianship
Information on how and why to appoint an enduring guardian, including forms, information sheets and brochures.
Department of Health - Healthy WA
Resources and information on Advance Health Directives, including the form you can use.
Australian Centre for Health Law Research - End of Life Law in Australia
Laws relating to death, dying and decision-making at the end of life, including Advance Health Directives, stopping treatment, palliative care, organ donation, and euthanasia and assisted dying.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Discussion Starter
A resource about end of life care specifically designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Reviewed: 18 April 2018