Enduring Guardianship & Advance Directives
WHAT IS AN ENDURING GUARDIANSHIP?
This is the appointment of a trusted person or persons who will organise what health care you should have, where you live, if you need special health services such as a community nurse, what medical treatment you should be given (on the advice of a doctor) provided you authorise them to do so. A copy of the Enduring Guardianship should be given to your health care providers so they know the person you appointed is able to organise these things for you. if you are unable to make such decisions for yourself, the person you appoint as your guardian will be able to make those decisions for you.
If you do not have an Enduring Guardianship, you may be in a situation where you need those services but cannot organise them yourself and this could cause significant problems.
If you are not ever able to make those decisions for yourself again, unless you have appointed an Enduring Guardian, the government will have to appoint a Public Guardian for you, or close family members or friends may have to apply to the Guardianship Tribunal to have themselves appointed.
It is much more preferable for you to make those decisions while you can by making an Enduring Guardianship yourself.
WHEN SHOULD YOU MAKE ONE?
While most people think about appointing someone as their guardian when they get close to needing aged care, it is worth considering at any age as it is possible to be injured by an accident or other circumstance to the extent where you need someone to organise this care for you or you may not be able to make such decisions yourself again.
The appointment of an Enduring Guardian can be changed at any time if needed.
ADVANCE DIRECTIVES OR LIVING WILLS
Doctors can advise your guardian what medical or other health care you need, but are bound to provide you with continued medical treatment whether or not this is going to cure you, or give you any quality of life.
You can give directions in the Enduring Guardianship document as to whether you want such treatment as medical life support for the remainder of your life or if you want to be allowed to die naturally.
You can also state what treatments you would not want to be given under certain circumstances.
By doing so, you relieve your family of the responsibility of having to make such decisions for you as they know what your living will is. It also takes away any conflict between family members when some may believe in stopping life support while others may believe it should be provided. Instead it is your decision before you are in that position and unable to say for yourself.
HOW IS ONE MADE?
A lawyer must witness your signature and provide a certificate stating that you the Enduring Guardianship has been explained and that you understand and consent to it.
A lawyer must also witness the signature of anyone that you appoint as your guardian, and provide a certificate that the responsibilities have been explained to the guardian and that they understand and accept the appointment.