Healthy living

Advance Health Directives

  • An Advance Health Directive (PDF 500KB), also known as an AHD, is a legal document used to record your decisions about the future medical treatment you want or do not want to receive if you become very unwell or injured.
  • The WA Advance Health Directive was updated on 4 August and now includes two new sections on values and preferences and medical research decisions.
  • An Advance Health Directive is one type of document available in WA to record the decisions you make as part of the advance care planning process.

An Advance Health Directive is a legal record of your decisions about treatment(s) you do or do not want to receive if you become unwell or injured in future. It can only be made by a person older than 18 years who is able to make and communicate their own decisions.

An Advance Health Directive is only used if you become unable to make or communicate decisions. If this happens, your Advance Health Directive becomes your ‘voice’. It can only be used if the information in it is relevant to the treatment or care you need.

What can I include in an Advance Health Directive?

You decide what decisions and treatments you want to include in the Advance Health Directive. You can include medical, surgical and dental treatments, palliative care and measures such as life-support and resuscitation. It is helpful to be as specific as possible in your treatment decisions.

The form also includes a values and preferences section where you can write down things that are most important to you about your health and care. The questions in this section are the same as those in the Values and Preferences Form (PDF 281KB).

What changes were made to the Advance Health Directive form in August 2022?

The WA Advance Health Directive was updated in the Guardianship and Administration Act Regulations on 4 August 2022. The new Advance Health Directive is easier to complete and understand as it:

  • enables you to capture your values and preferences, in addition to treatment decisions
  • includes more guidance and examples
  • combines tick box and free text questions
  • includes consent to medical research.

Advance Health Directives using an old version of the form that were made prior to 4 February 2023 will continue to be valid if the person followed all legal requirements to complete the form.

An Advance Health Directive is a statutory document. What does this mean?

Statutory documents are the strongest and most formal way of recording your values, preferences and decisions for future health and personal care. Examples include an Advance Health Directive and an Enduring Power of Guardianship.

These documents are recognised under legislation in WA and, in most situations, must be followed.

Statutory documents must:

  • be made by an adult with capacity
  • be made by the person (not by someone else on their behalf)
  • be signed by the person and witnessed according to formal requirements.
How do I make an Advance Health Directive?
  • Start by reading the Advance Health Directive (PDF 500KB) and the Read the Guide to Making an Advance Health Directive in WA (PDF 1.5MB).
  • Think about what matters to you most about your values, health and health care and what will matter most if you become seriously unwell or injured in future.
  • Talk to close family and friends about what is important to you.
  • Seek medical and/or legal advice as required.
  • Complete the details in your Advance Health Directive by hand or type into the electronic PDF form.
  • Sign your Advance Health Directive in the presence of 2 witnesses aged 18 years or older, including one person who is authorised to witness statutory declarations in WA.
  • Make certified copies and upload a copy to My Health Record (external site) to ensure your Advance Health Directive is available to your treating health professionals if it is needed.
  • Keep the original Advance Health Directive in a safe place.
  • Give certified copies of your Advance Health Directive to close family and friends and people who are involved in your care.
  • Plan a time (in 2 to 5 years) to review your Advance Health Directive or do it immediately if your health circumstances change.
Will my health professional always follow my Advance Health Directive?

Yes. In most situations, if you become unable to make or communicate decisions about your treatment and care, health professionals must follow the decisions in your Advance Health Directive, except in some limited exceptions. A limited exception may occur if:

  • circumstances relevant to your treatment decision have changed since you made the treatment decision, and
  • you could not have reasonably anticipated those changes when you made your Advance Health Directive, and
  • it is likely that a reasonable person with knowledge of the change of circumstances would change their mind about the treatment decision.
What happens if I don’t have an Advance Health Directive?

If you are unable to make decisions for yourself and non-urgent treatment is needed, treatment decisions will be made according to the Hierarchy of treatment decision-makers (PDF 1.5MB).

If you do not have an Advance Health Directive, or your Advance Health Directive does not cover the treatment decision required, the health professional will seek a treatment decision from the first person on the hierarchy who:

  • is 18 years or older
  • has full legal capacity
  • is reasonably available
  • is willing to make the decision.

More information

See the advance care planning frequently asked questions for further information about Advance Health Directives including:

  • witnessing signing and sharing
  • additions, changes, inclusions and revoking (cancelling)
  • accessibility
  • certified copies and storage.

See Advance care planning general information.

Resources

To order hard copies of these resources, contact WA Department of Health Advance Care Planning Information Line

  • General queries and to order free advance care planning resources (e.g. Advance Health Directives, Values and Preferences Form)
  • Phone: (08) 9222 2300
  • Email: ACP@health.wa.gov.au

Advance care planning translated resources

A range of advance care planning resources are available on the Advance care planning translated resources page

Where to get help

Advance care planning

  • Department of Health WA Advance Care Planning Information Line
    General enquiries and to order advance care planning resources  (e.g. Advance Health Directives, Values and Preferences form)
    Phone: 9222 2300
    Email: ACP@health.wa.gov.au
  • Palliative Care Helpline
    Information and support on issues to do with advance care planning, palliative care, grief and loss
    Phone: 1800 573 299 (9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day)
    Palliative Care WA (external site)
  • Advance Care Planning Australia Free Support Service
    General queries and support with completing advance care planning documents
    Phone: 1300 208 582 (Monday to Friday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm AEST)
    Online referral form (external site)

Enduring Powers of Guardianship and Enduring Powers of Attorney


Last reviewed: 01-08-2022
Acknowledgements

End of Life Care Program


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

Palliative Care WA helpline: 1800 573 299. White text on purple background. with two women talking on a bench in bottom right corner