Read the information below and then decide if you want to appoint one or more Substitute Decision-Makers.
Should I appoint Substitute Decision-Makers?
- If you appoint one or more Substitute Decision-Makers in your Advance Care Directive, you will have someone you trust with the legal authority to make decisions for you.
- Having a Substitute Decision-Maker can help to avoid family conflict by making it clear who you want to make decisions for you and how.
- You can make sure the culturally appropriate person/s have legal authority to make decisions by appointing them in your Advance Care Directive.
- You can tell your Substitute Decision-Makers how you want them to make decisions for you (e.g. if you have more than one, or if you want them to make decisions together or separately).
If you do not appoint a Substitute Decision-Maker others close to you may be asked to make decisions for you if you are unable. They must follow any relevant wishes or instructions you have written in your Advance Care Directive.
For your peace of mind, it is a good idea to appoint one or more Substitute Decision-Makers, tell them what is important to you, and write down your wishes on the Advance Care Directive form (PDF 434KB) so they, and others, know what you want or do not want.
If you do not want to appoint anyone in your Advance Care Directive, you can just write down what is important to you, such as:
- your culture
- your beliefs
- your wishes and instructions for your future healthcare
- your dying wishes
- where you wish to live and other personal wishes.
How many Substitute Decision-Makers should I have?
It may be helpful to have more than one Substitute Decision-Maker. Doing this means that:
- more than one person is prepared and able to make decisions for you if needed in the future
- another person is available should one unexpectedly become unwell, change their mind or die.
How should I choose my Substitute Decision-Maker/s?
Choose a person who:
- is 18 years or over
- is able to make decisions
- knows you well
- you trust
- respects what is important to you
- can work out what decision you would make
- can make serious decisions for you during emotionally difficult times
- wants to be your Substitute Decision-Maker and understands what this means.
You cannot appoint someone who is paid to care for you such as your doctor, nurse or a professional paid carer (such as the Director of Nursing in an aged care facility or a community care worker).
Your Substitute Decision-Maker must agree to be appointed
Talk to the person/s you want to be your Substitute Decision-Maker. You need to be clear about:
- what types of decisions you want them to make for you, and
- how you want them to make decisions for you.
The person/s you choose to be your Substitute Decision-Maker must sign the Advance Care Directive form (PDF 434KB) to say that they understand what it means to be your Substitute Decision-Maker and that they agree to be appointed.
What it means to be your Substitute Decision-Maker is explained in the Substitute Decision Maker guidelines attached to the form. Make sure your Substitute Decision Maker/s reads and understands this information before they sign your Advance Care Directive form.
Your Substitute Decision-Makers should follow and respect what you write in your Advance Care Directive.
It is recommended that you talk to your Substitute Decision-Makers and others close to you about your Advance Care Directive.
Conditions of appointment
- Appoint one Substitute Decision-Maker to make all your decisions.
- Appoint two or more Substitute Decision-Makers and write down what types of decisions they can make (e.g. health care decisions).
- Appoint two or more Substitute Decision-Makers and request that they make all decisions together.
If you do not specify, your Substitute Decision Maker/s will be able to make decisions either together or separately.
This will mean that if only one Substitute Decision-Maker can be contacted a decision can still be made, but if two or more are available they can make a decision together.
If you decide that you want your Substitute Decision-Makers to make all decisions together, state this in the space provided on Part 2b of the form.
- This may make the decision-making process slower as all Substitute Decision-Makers will need to agree.
- There is also the chance your Substitute Decision-Makers may not agree.
In this section you might also wish to:
- Write down the names of people your Substitute Decision-Maker must talk to when making decisions for you. For example, family members, close friends, religious adviser or Aboriginal Elders.
- Write down the name of your Enduring Power of Attorney (someone you have appointed to make financial and legal decisions) if you have one. Your Substitute Decision-Maker will need to speak to your Financial Attorney if decisions they make on your behalf, might affect your finances.
A health practitioner is only responsible for contacting one Substitute Decision-Maker (whoever they can reach). Your Substitute Decision-Maker is responsible for contacting other Substitute Decision-Makers if you have appointed more than one.