Communication is the key
Communication (noun): the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium.
Advance Care Directives
What is an "Advance Care Directive"?
Basically, it's a document.
If you have an accident and are unable to tell treating doctors you don't care about your expected quality of life, you want them to do everything possible to keep you alive; this document will do that for you.
Or, you may feel you don't want to be kept alive if it is expected you will need to be feed artificially through a tube for the rest of your life; this document is how you communicate that. Legally.
When completed, treating doctors will know what quality of life means to you, what treatments you do not want and who can speak on your behalf.
What's included in one?
There are three key parts to an Advance Care Directive::
01. Life quality profile
When treating doctors or medical professionals need to know what it means for you to have "good quality life", the information in this section tells them how you feel about physical activities, hobbies and importantly, how you feel about loosing your ability to look after yourself.
02. Treatment directives
Legally binding instructions about life sustaining treatments based on different scenarios that can help avoid treatments you would refuse if you were able to communicate yourself.
03. Substitute decision makers
In an emergency, treating doctors look for someone to make decisions about your treatment and care. While there is a legal hierarchy for determining who can speak for you in an emergency, often the people closest to us are not equiped for big decisions in a crisis. That's why you have the option of legally appointing someone for this role. You can be as general or specific as you wish about their authority and it's good to know that any decisions they make must be in line with your documented preferences and wishes.
If there is someone you do not want involved in decisions on your behalf, this is where you record that information.
It's your right to choose, you just need to document it.
In an emergency, treating doctors need to make decisions that will impact the rest of your life
Help them make informed decisions based on your preferences and wishes.
When are they used?
Only if you are not able to communicate due to illness, injury, medication or other substances.
If you are over 18 years and, do not have an existing condition that impairs your ability to make decisions, you have decision-making capacity.
If you were to suffer serious disease or severe injury, your decision-making capacity might become impaired.
This could be long-term or permanent such as suffering severe and irreversible brain damage or temporary, such as being put into an induced coma.
Who uses them?
Treating doctors, medical professionals and substitute decision makers
Doctors and health care professionals will only look at your Advance Care Directive if you are unable to make or communicate decisions about your healthcare and treatment.
Your Person Responsible must refer to your Advance Care Directive before making any medical or health decisions.
Before acting on any instructions that your Advance Care Directive may contain about your treatment or care, doctors will assess if it is valid. Part of that assessment is understanding whether it applies to your current situation.
In a crisis your family may find it difficult to decide what treatment is best for you.
An Advance Care Directive will help your family and doctors to know what you would want when you are not able to tell them yourself.
What's the difference between Advance Care Planning and Directives
Planning is a process, Directives are documents.
Advance Care Planning is the process of planning in advance for what medical treatment and care you do and do not consent.
It delivers on the principal of attempting to give each of us maximum control and autonomy over our own lives and our own decision-making.
We do it so that doctors and loved ones have guidance on what we want if we're unable to communicate ourselves.
Anyone who does not have decision making capacity may be limited in options for making decisions about their own medical treatment and care. Therefore it is important to create your own directive while you're well and have clear decision making capacity.
Who can create one?
Any adult with capacity
Only you can write your own Advance Care Directive and, you must have decision making capacity.
You can't (in most cases):
- Write one for someone else
- Write one if you have dementia or any other impairment to your decision making ability
- Write one if you're under 18.
Who should create one?
There is a bit of a stigma around Advance Care Planning being for the elderly or terminally ill. Of course it is important if that's where you're at in life but, the reality is accidents and illness can happen at any time.
Why is it so complicated?
It's important, legally binding and unfamiliar to most of us.
Advance Care Planning has been around for a long time, historically has been delivered by medical professionals familiar with the health care system. Most of us don't have their knowledge and experience, making it challenging to figure out how to fill out a form that asks big questions like "I refuse the following medical treatment:" and gives you a blank section to write your answer.
We designed Flamingo with this in mind. We make it easier and more accessible for anyone without medical education.
Flamingo digital directives
What makes flamingo different?
We're making it easier, more useful and more accessible for everyone.
Traditionally advance care documents have been hand written paper documents or electronic documents stored on a personal computer.
Some of the key issues doctors report when referring to an Advance Care Directive are:
unable to read the hand writing or the document has been damaged
02. Capacity unknown
did the person understand the impact of their decisions when they wrote it
03. Too vague
not being able to understand what the individual considers a “burden” in a statement like “I don’t want to be a burden to my loved ones”
Can I see an example before getting started?
Our no-commitment trial gives you 30 days to decide.
Everything in one place, no complicated "user guides" or other reference documents to pour over - we make it as easy as possible.
PLEASE NOTE: Our advice should be considered general in nature. We do not provide any legal, tax, medical or other professional advice and would advise that you seek expert professional or medical advice before making any decisions based on your individual circumstances.
Your wishes and preferences at their fingertips
Flamingo gives you access to easy tools to help you create, store and share everything needed by others in an emergency - all in one place.