Looking to become a Helper? Click here

A dependable support community you can trust

Health Care Directives and Living Wills

Aged Care

Updated 25-01-2024

Health Care Directives and Living Wills

Understanding the Critical Role of Health Care Directives in Medical Decision-Making

When facing the complexities of future medical care, particularly when individuals may no longer be able to voice their decisions, health care directives and living wills become paramount. These legal instruments ensure that your health care preferences are respected and provide guidance to loved ones and medical professionals during challenging times.

The Essence of Health Care Directives

A health care directive, often referred to as an advance directive, is a legal document that specifies an individual's health care preferences. This document speaks for you when you are unable to communicate due to illness or incapacity. In essence, it provides a clear set of instructions regarding the medical treatments you would or would not like to receive.

Components of a Health Care Directive

An advance health care directive typically includes:

  • A Living Will, which conveys your wishes concerning end-of-life care, such as life-prolonging treatments, resuscitation, and tube feeding.
  • A Medical Power of Attorney (POA) or Health Care Proxy, which designates a trustworthy person to make health care decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated.

Each state in Australia may have its own forms and specific laws governing the creation and use of advance directives.

The Importance of Living Wills

A living will serves as a subsection of a health care directive, focusing largely on end-of-life care. It becomes active when a person is terminally ill or in a vegetative state with little chance of recovery, as certified by medical professionals.

By documenting your preferences in a living will, you alleviate the burden from family members who might otherwise struggle with deciding what is best for you. A well-crafted living will reduce ambiguity and can be an act of compassion towards those you love.

Key Considerations When Drafting a Living Will

  • Life-sustaining treatments: Make decisions about the use of mechanical ventilation, resuscitation, and artificial nutrition and hydration.
  • Pain management: State your preferences for palliative care and pain relief, especially if they affect your consciousness or hasten death.
  • Organ and tissue donation: Specify your wishes regarding organ donation for transplantation or medical research.

In Australia, requirements for advance care directives vary by state and territory but generally include:

  • Being 18 years of age or older and of sound mind during the drafting of the document.
  • Having the document properly witnessed, with witnesses usually required to have no beneficiary interest in your will.
  • Seeking legal aid or advice to ensure the document aligns with relevant state legislations and properly reflects your wishes.

The Process of Implementing Health Care Directives

Once your health care directive is in place, it is crucial to inform those involved in your care:

  • Discuss your decisions with family members and the designated health care proxy.
  • Provide a copy to your general practitioner or specialist and ensure it’s included in your medical records.
  • Keep a copy in a safe and accessible place, and give a copy to any health care agent you’ve named.

Regular Reviews and Updates

Life circumstances and medical preferences can change, therefore reviewing your health care directive regularly and after any major life event—such as a new diagnosis or the death of a loved one—is prudent. Periodic updates may be necessary to reflect your current wishes, keeping it valid and aligned with your intentions.


Health care directives and living wills stand as your voice during times when you might not be able to express your medical care preferences. They offer peace of mind, knowing that your wishes will be honored, and they provide clarity and direction to those entrusted with your care. For Australian residents, taking the time to understand and prepare these documents is a critical step toward ensuring autonomy over their medical future.

It’s never too early to have a plan. Engaging in these discussions with your family and health care providers, drafting a directive, and reviewing it periodically places control in your hands and supports your dignity in the face of life’s most challenging decisions.

About the Author

Olivia is a seasoned professional with an extensive career spanning the Aged Care sector, bringing decades of experience to her role. Her comprehensive understanding of Aged Care services and practices is a testament to her dedication. Olivia’s gratitude extends to those who have generously shared their knowledge and insights with her over the years, contributing to her wealth of expertise.

Olivia’s articles reflect her commitment to practical and informative content. They skillfully combine her industry know-how with real-world insights, providing valuable resources for navigating the complexities of the Aged Care sector. Olivia stands as a reliable advocate for delivering compassionate and effective care to elderly individuals, offering her support not only to fellow care workers and professionals but also to those seeking to gain a deeper understanding of the sector.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Examples of Care and Support in Aged Care?

The landscape of aged care is one that is constantly evolving, with the emphasis on not only extending the lives of the elderly but ensuring these years are lived with dignity, respect, and fulfilm... read more

What Are Support Needs in Aged Care?

As people age, they often require additional support and assistance to maintain their quality of life and meet their health and welfare needs. Understanding what constitutes support needs in aged c... read more

What Are the Three Main Categories of Assistance in Aged Care?

Aged care assistance is categorized broadly into three main areas: personal care, medical care, and lifestyle and emotional support. These encompass an array of services designed to meet the divers... read more

What Are Three 3 Examples of Activities of Living in Aged Care?

As we reach our golden years, the ease with which we once completed our daily activities can diminish. Ageing can lead to a reduction in strength, mobility, and cognitive abilities, necessitating a... read more

What Does a Care Worker Do in Aged Care?

In the era of an aging population, aged care remains a critical sector in the provision of comprehensive support services. A care worker in this field performs a multi-faceted role, aimed at enhanc... read more

Why Choose Kinder Caring for Your Home Care Needs?

Contact us today to discover how our personalised care plans can make a significant difference in your life, upholding our commitment to care and compassion.

A dependable support community you can trust

Tradition of Trust & Excellence

At Kinder Caring, we stand as guardians of a 25-year heritage, offering top-notch home care services. Our deep understanding and vast experience make us an ideal choice for those seeking excellence in community care.

A dependable support community you can trust

Tailored Care for Your Lifestyle

We specialise in creating personalised care plans, understanding each client’s unique needs. Our Care Managers ensure every care aspect is bespoke, valuing each individual’s distinct preferences and requirements.

A dependable support community you can trust

Empowering Your Choice

Kinder Caring respects your decision-making freedom. Choose between our in-house experts or skilled independent contractors for care that perfectly fits your lifestyle, providing genuine flexibility.

A dependable support community you can trust

Decades of Service

Over 25 years, Kinder Caring has dedicated over 2.5 million hours to supporting more than 7,400 individuals, reflecting our commitment to impactful, high-quality care.

A dependable support community you can trust

A Community of Professionals

Our team, chosen for skill and compassion, forms the backbone of Kinder Caring. We focus on building a strong, caring team committed to your comfort and well-being.

A dependable support community you can trust

Accreditation & Improvement

Kinder Caring’s adherence to the ACIS and investment in ongoing staff development reflect our commitment to providing care that meets the highest quality and contemporary standards.

A dependable support community you can trust

Building Trusted Relationships

We’re more than care providers; we’re partners in your health journey. With a widespread network and collaborations with funding organisations, we offer accessible, superior care across NSW, QLD & VIC.

A dependable support community you can trust

Join the Kinder Caring Family

Choosing Kinder Caring means joining a family dedicated to your independence and well-being. Be part of our 25-year journey, continuing our legacy of impactful, caring service.

Our happy clients

Bridging the gap between you and an enhanced quality of life, Kinder Caring is committed to nurturing your independence, and delivering compassionate care in the comfort of your home.

A dependable support community you can trust

We’re immensely grateful for Kinder Caring’s assistance over the past months. A special shoutout to Nicole Coupland, who has been an exceptional carer for Mum. Thank you for your unwavering support.

- Carolina,
Willoughby, NSW
A dependable support community you can trust

We are so pleased with the care Dad has been receiving from Kinder Caring, especially from Aster. She has shown professionalism and dedication. We appreciate the company’s flexibility in accommodating our requests, like Aster wearing a mask and gloves. The temporary rail adjustments and the proactive approach in ensuring the best care for Dad is commendable. Thank you, Kinder Caring.

- Karin,
Kealba, VIC
A dependable support community you can trust

Kinder Caring has been exceptional in their service. They provided a wonderful carer who is exceptional at what she does. Not only did they promptly get my quote approved, but they also took care of my window cleaning needs and organized transportation for my medical appointments. I couldn’t be happier!

- Maria,
Melton, VIC
A dependable support community you can trust

There was so much more to caring for Dad than we ever thought. Kinder Caring provided everything we needed to support us; they became part of our family… they made a difficult time so much easier for us.

Lindfield NSW
A dependable support community you can trust

A huge thank you to all the nurses at Kinder Caring. Having your expertise, caring attitude and ongoing advice meant we did not have to place Dad into a nursing home or send him to hospital and therefore his last days spent with Mum and the family were very special for us all.

Mt Waverley Vic

Experience Exceptional Home Care with Kinder Caring!

Unlock 25 Years of Trusted Expertise: 2,500,000+ Hours of Dedicated Care delivered to 7,400+ people from 560,000+ Personalised Services

Your Journey to Peace of Mind Starts Here. Contact Us Today!

1300 796 675