Making an Advance Health Directive
You can make an Advance Health Directive (AHD) anytime as long as you are at least 18 and have capacity. You have capacity if you are capable of understanding the nature and effect of your AHD. You may lack full legal capacity if your decision making is impaired, for example, due to illness, disease or injury or due to the effects of medication, drugs or alcohol.
If you have any doubts about your capacity to make an effective AHD, you should ask your doctor for an assessment.
If you do choose to create your own form, you must make sure it substantially complies with the Guardianship and Administration 2005 Regulations.
I am not able to sign my Advance Health Directive – can someone else sign on my behalf?
If you are incapable of signing (or writing) your AHD, someone may sign the AHD at your direction. If someone signs the AHD at your direction, they cannot be one of the witnesses. Having someone sign the AHD at your request is different from asking them to make an AHD on your behalf (which is not permitted).
How does someone create an Advance Health Directive they are vision impaired?
There are mechanisms available if someone is vision impaired and wish to execute an AHD or other legal documents. It would be appropriate to seek independent legal advice as to how that can be achieved. It is likely that the process will involve the document being read aloud to the maker, with either the maker personally signing the document or directing another person to do so on their behalf.
The Law Society of Western Australia (external site) provides a referral service to help members of the public to locate lawyers with appropriate expertise. The general public may also be able to obtain assistance for a minimal fee from a community legal centre.
Who needs to witness my signature on my Advance Health Directive?
You must sign the AHD in the presence of 2 witnesses. The witnesses must sign in your presence and the presence of each other. Both witnesses must be at least 18. One of the witnesses must also be a person who is authorised to witness statutory declarations. Schedule 2 of the Oaths, Affidavits and Statutory Declarations Act 2005 (external site) has the full list of people who can witness a statutory declaration. All registered health professionals and lawyers are included on this list. Additionally lawyers – who you may be attending for assistance with Enduring Powers of Attorney – are also included on this list.
Can I ask my doctor to be a witness?
You may consider asking your doctor to witness your AHD. This means any future doctors looking after you will know your previous doctor helped you to make an informed decision about your future care and that you were aware of the effects of your decisions. Alternatively, you can include the details of your doctor on your AHD.
What do I do with my completed my Advance Health Directive?
After you have filled in your AHD, it is important to make it available at point of care. There are several ways to achieve this:
- keep it in a safe place (always keep the original)
- give a copy to your family, hospital, GP or other health professionals. There is no requirement for copies your AHD to be certified.
A person who is authorised as a witness for statutory declarations under the Oaths, Affidavits and Statutory Declarations Act 2005 (external site) may certify that the copy is a true copy of the original document. Suggested wording for the certification is as follows:
“I certify that this is a true copy of the original produced to me on <date>.”
Qualification (for example, pharmacist)
- give a copy to your enduring guardian or guardian (if you have one)
- consider completing and carrying an Advance Health Directive (AHD) alert card (or similar) in your purse or wallet, stating that you have made an AHD and how a copy can be obtained.
Download an AHD alert card (PDF 160KB).
This alert card can also be ordered by:
Phone: 9222 2300
- consider buying a MedicAlert bracelet to inform any treating doctors that you have created an AHD.
- Consider registering with My Health record (eHealth)
Presently it is not possible to register AHDs. It is recommended that you provide copies of your AHD to health professionals, carers and family who may be involved in your care.
Where to get help
Advance Health Directives
WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network Telephone support
Phone: 9222 2300
Enduring Powers of Guardianship
Office of the Public Advocate
Phone: 1300 858 455 (local call rates from land line only).
Fax: 9278 7333
Cancer and Palliative Care Network
This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.