Advance care planning involves thinking about what types of health care you may or may not wish to receive in future and discussing this with your family, friends and health care team so that if you become seriously ill and/or unable to speak for yourself then your wishes can still be followed.
In Queensland you can document your wishes in an Advance Health Directive or other hospital forms and provide copies of the document to your family and to your health care providers to have on record if needed. You can change the directions you record in the forms at any time should your circumstances change.
Advance Care Planning Australia lists the following as benefits of advance care planning:
- You continue to have a say in your medical care, even if you become too sick to speak for yourself.
- You will have peace of mind, knowing that you are more likely to receive the medical treatment you would want, and not receive the treatment you would not want.
- Your family and friends are relieved of the burden of having to make decisions without knowing your choices in a highly stressful situation.
- Research and anecdotal evidence also show that if doctors inform people about possible future treatments and listen to their wishes, better end of life care follows.
- Studies conducted in a range of healthcare settings suggest that advance care planning can improve individual and family satisfaction with care, reduce the number of people transferred from nursing homes to hospitals and reduce stress, anxiety and depression in surviving relatives.
If you would like to complete an advance care plan then your GP or Palliative Care service will be able to help with this.
Advance care plans may also involve recording your wishes about body or tissue donation after death, (see link below). This NHMRC booklet is designed to help people think through some ethical issues and make informed decisions about body or tissue donation.
Advance Care Planning Australia has information on the benefits of advance care planning and how to go about it in each state.
The Office of the Public Guardian website provides information on completing an Advance Health Directive,
My care, My choices website has further information on advance care planning including brochures in 12 different languages.
Donate Life Website
A will outlines what should happen to your personal property after you die. Making a Will can save your family and friends stress, money and time. Without a Will a court may need to decide who benefits.
Keep your will in a safe place, such as with your solicitor or trustee, in a fire-proof safe at home or at your bank. Provide copies of your will to those people you have nominated as your executors.
More information about making wills and appointing executors in Queensland can be found here .
Do-it-yourself Will kits are available if your affairs are simple but most people need to see a trusted adviser, (solicitor or accountant) to ensure the will is completed properly. The Public Trustee provides a free will making service to all Queenslanders, (see here for more information) .
If you are 18 years or more, appoint another person to make decisions for you if you are no longer able to make your own decisions. In Queensland that person will hold your power of attorney. Choose a person who knows you well and you trust to make decisions based on your wishes and best interests. This can help to avoid conflict between family members and healthcare professionals if you are too unwell to voice your wishes yourself.
In Queensland you can appoint a power of attorney to make personal and/or financial decisions on your behalf.
- Personal decisions relate to your care and welfare, including your health care, (for example, deciding where or with whom you live or consenting to medical treatment).
- Financial decisions relate to the management of your finances (for example, paying your bills and taxes, selling or renting your home, using your income to pay for your needs or invest your money).
The office of the Public Guardian provides further explanation and you can download the forms you require to nominate a power of attorney. A solicitor or justice of the peace can assist in explaining further and completing the paperwork. If you only wish to nominate an enduring power of attorney for health matters but not financial matters then the Advance Health Directive form is available, (see section on Advance Planning).
It can be confronting to think about your own funeral but letting your loved ones know your preferences can prevent confusion or conflict after your death, and ensures your personal wishes are met.
If you felt up to it you could meet with a funeral director in advance to talk about a pre-arranged funeral (planning what kind of funeral you want but paying later), or a pre-paid funeral (where you organise and pay for it in advance). Please be aware that funeral insurance and funeral bonds can be very expensive. Consider those options carefully before signing anything.
Even if you don’t want to plan in detail it still might be helpful to tell your family or write down your wishes about things like:
- Do you want a funeral service or some other gathering?
- Do you want to be buried or cremated?
- Where would you like your remains or ashes placed?
- Who would you like to be invited, who would you like to speak and is there special music you would like?
- Would you like flowers or would you prefer people give to a particular charity instead?
- Is there a special memory or legacy you want to share?
If you find it hard to discuss your funeral plans with the people closest to you, your palliative care team can help.
Choosing a Funeral Director (Queensland Government Advice)
As a family member or carer planning the funeral of someone you love can be a sensitive and emotional time for you and for everyone involved. You and your family can be under intense pressure after a loved one passes away and you may not have the time or be able to carefully consider the range of funeral services, providers, or prices which are available. However, you should always choose a funeral director you feel comfortable with. If you are planning a funeral and are unsure of which funeral director to choose, you should ask if they are signed-up to the Queensland Funeral Industry Code of Conduct .
To get more information about choosing a funeral director the Australian Funeral Directors Association ( http://afda.org.au/ ) and Independent Funeral Directors Association of Australia Inc. ( http://www.ifdaa.org/queensland/ ) are national funeral services with members in every state and territory.
Pall Assist - Burial Assistance Scheme information