Preserving the life of some patients is also often at the considerable expense to the quality of life of those loved ones who are nearest and dearest to the patient.
Euthanasia is illegal in Western Australia and this complicates the issue.
Parliament introduced a new act, the Acts Amendment (Advance Health Care Planning) Act 2006, which authorises the making of an Advanced Health Directive which enables the maker to give (in advance) directions to their medical management team and others regarding their personal health and treatment decisions in the unfortunate event they become unable to give such instructions themselves.
The Advance Health Directive is a binding direction, in writing, as to what the maker wishes his/her appointee, family, and the medical profession/carers to do if he/she is unable to give that direction himself/herself.
The Advance Health Directive gives a clear instruction of the maker’s wishes to those who will need to make decisions for him/her regarding the nature and extent of treatment the maker desires (or does not desire, as the case may be).
For those who are involved in long term patient care and where there is no reasonable prospect of any quality of life, the Advance Health Directive is a most useful instruction and often relieves family members of the significant burden of decision making at a very difficult time.
The preparation of an Advance Health Directive at a time that the maker is of full mental capacity and with the full capacity competently to give instructions for the making of the Advance Health Directive has been found to be of great benefit to loved ones and members of the medical profession, who can take comfort in knowing what the maker wants to be done at a time he/she cannot express those wishes.
The Advance Health Directive is only one of the matters which need to be considered when giving attention to what might happen in the future.