It’s something none of us really want to think about, but something which is important to consider. What happens if something happens which means that you are unable to make or communicate your own decisions about your healthcare and other important matters? How can you make sure you get the care that you want if you can’t say so yourself? This is where Advanced Care Directives come into play…

What is an Advanced Care Directive?

An Advanced Care Directive (ACD) is a legal document. It allows adults to:

  • Write down instructions, values and wishes for their future health care, as well as residential, accommodation and personal decision-making matters.

  • Appoint one or more “Substitute Decision-Makers” who are able to make decisions on behalf of themselves in the event that they are either temporarily or permanently incapacitated.

Anyone is able to make an ACD as long as they understand what it is, and it is not made with any coercion, pressure and influence from others.

When Does this Come Into Play?

This comes into play if the person becomes incapacitated/unable to make medical conditions. For example, this could be if you are confused, have brain damage, are unconscious or in a coma. Specifically, your Substitute Decision Maker must make decisions about your care in a scenario where you are unable to:

  • Understand the information given to you and the choices available

  • Understand the consequences of the choices available

  • Make a decision based on this information

  • Retain the information

  • Communicate the decision

What can an Advanced Care Directive not do?

An ACD is not a will or a ‘living will’, and it cannot be used to make financial or legal decisions. For these sorts of decisions, a separate legal document called an Enduring Power of Attorney is used.

Who Should Have an Advanced Care Directive?

ACDs are available to all people over the age of 18. However, it is something you should particularly consider as you get older, or if you have a chronic or degenerative medical condition. If you or one of your loved ones have recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia or any other cognitive impairment, this may be particularly important.

How do I get an Advanced Care Directive?

The ACD form can be found online and either completed online or printed off. It is important that the form is witnessed by someone who is independent of the ACD itself (ie is not a Substitute Decision Maker, a beneficiary of your will, or your own treated healthcare provider).

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, feel free to book an appointment with one of our friendly doctors by booking online or contacting us by phone on 8269 6000.


Legal Services Comission AU 2018. Advance Care Directives – South Australia. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 26 April 2018].

Government of South Australia 2014. Advance Care Directives. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 26 April 2018)

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