There may come a time in your life where you will no longer be able to make decisions for yourself. This may be due to dementia, a sudden accident, mental health problem, stroke or serious cardiac event, or becoming unconscious or in a coma. These are times when having an Advanced Care Directive in place can be very useful.


What is an advanced care directive?

An Advanced Care Directive (ACD) is a document allowing you to clearly convey your choices for your medical treatment, living arrangements, end of life care and other personal arrangements. It allows you to appoint one or more substitute decision makers to make these decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself.


The ACD can allow you to write decisions about treatment that you may want, and any treatments that you do not wish to have in the event that you are unwell.


What if I already have an Enduring Power of Guardianship or Medical Power of Attorney?

The new Advanced Care Directive replaces any existing Enduring Power of Guardianship, Medical Power of Attorney and Anticipatory Direction with a single, Advance Care Directive Form. But it is important to remember that if you have already activated those other documents in the past, they will remain legally active until the time comes that you create a new Advanced Care Directive. When you do the new one, this will override the old  documents.


Who should have an advanced care directive?

Anyone over the age of 18 can write an advanced care directive at any stage of life – whether you are completely well, unwell, young or old. To write your ACD it must be your choice and you must be over 18 years old, know what an ACD is, know what it will be used for and know when it will be used.


Advanced Care Directives can continue to be revised once they are made, in line with your changing wishes and aims of health care.


When will it be used?

The ACD can only be used when you cannot make decisions for yourself: either temporarily or permanently.


What is a substitute decision maker?

A substitute decision maker (SDM) can be appointed using the ACD form. This person/persons will legally be able to make decisions for you about health care, living arrangements and other personal matters when you are unable to. If you choose not to appoint a substitute decision maker, others close to you may be asked to make decisions for you and must follow any relevant wishes or decisions you have outlined in your ACD.


Anyone who makes decisions for you when you cannot will need to make a decision that they think you would have made in the same circumstances, so it is a good idea to talk to your SDM about what you would like to happen in the event of you being unable to make decisions.


What are its limitations?

The ACD is not a will, and cannot be used to make financial or legal decisions – these still need to be made by appointing an Enduring Power of Attorney.


How do I make an ACD?

Please come in and talk to your GP about your decision to write an ACD so they are aware of your health care decisions. Also, your ACD needs to be witnessed by someone independent to you.


For more information on writing and ACD, please see:


Getting started

Book an appointment with one of our friendly GPs if you are interested in discussing this further, by calling us on 8269 6000 .


If you feel as though you would like to get started, follow this link to find the Advanced Care Directive pdf which you are able to download and print out.


Alternatively you are able to complete the document on this website: First register an account, then next simply fill out the online forms.


Disclaimer: The links provided are for information proposes only. We take no responsibility for the content of these websites.



Government of South Australia, date unknown, Information for you, Advanced Care Directives, retrieved 9/4/17,

Government of South Australia, date unknown, About, Advanced Care Directives, retrieved online 9/4/17,



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