An Advance Care Directive is a legal form by which you appoint people to assist you if you are unable to make decisions about your own health care.

On 1 March 2024, the Government of South Australia introduced an updated Advance Care Directive (“ACD”) form with a fresh new look and a few updates.

So, what are some of the changes that have been made? Let’s explore.

Do-It-Yourself or Seek Legal Advice?

The ACD notes that it is “designed for people with decision-making capacity, aged 18 years or older, to complete using the Do-It-Yourself Guide”. Whilst the document may be intended to be accessible and for public benefit, mistakes can easily be made by those seeking to complete it without help. Wording that is unclear can be misinterpreted and may not have the effect you intended. Whilst you can prepare the document yourself, seeking legal advice tailored to your circumstances can avoid confusion and mistakes being made, and ensure that your wishes and refusals of health care are clearly defined.

Changes to Personal Details

Sex at Birth and Gender have been included, though they are not required to be completed. This is a great change if this is something that matters to you. If not, the answers are not required so you do not need to provide an answer.

Another change is a space to include a list of health conditions that you want to make known. This may be important to you, if there are certain conditions that medical professionals should be aware of if you weren’t able to communicate them yourself.

Changes to Substitute Decision Makers

You can now appoint a “first preferred” Substitute Decision Maker (SDM), who would be responsible for contacting other Substitute Decision Makers. The form includes space to appoint up to four SDMs, with additional pages available to include more.

If you do want to include four people, one of them will be “first preferred”.

There is also a section to name other people you would like your SDMs and health practitioners to involve. Depending on your circumstances, this may be important to you, or it may just muddy the waters, cause confusion or argument and drag out the decision-making process.

Signing by SDMs

Your SDMs still need to sign the document first, though they can now sign electronically. This will make appointing SDMs who live interstate or overseas much easier and avoid delays in completing your Advance Care Directive.

Values, Wishes, Refusals of Health Care

The ACD allows you to include statements as to your values and wishes, and refusals of health care.

There is now a section dedicated to Organ Donation, requiring a choice as to whether you are willing or unwilling to be considered for organ and tissue donation.

What was a section named “Binding Refusals of Health Care” has been changed to “Refusals of Health Care” though despite this change in name, these refusals are still legally binding refusals if this section is completed (except in certain circumstances).

Our team is across the changes to the Advance Care Directive, and happy to help guide you through the paperwork, discuss your options and provide advice to prepare an Advance Care Directive that works for you. If you have a Power of Guardian or an Advance Care Directive prepared using older forms, please speak with us.