Frequently asked questions | Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand | Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

Everyone benefits from thinking about what matters to them and their end-of-life. The ideal time to talk about and to write your advance care plan is when your health is stable and you are not facing a health crisis – death does not need to be close. Start thinking about it now and talk to your loved ones about what you are thinking.

You can change it – it's your plan.

If you decide to change it, just let your family know and share the updated plan with your doctor. Some people set a regular date to re-read their advance care plan and make any changes.

A key benefit of sharing your advance care plan with your doctor is that, when the time comes, he or she will know what care you prefer and more importantly, what care you don't want.

Your GP can also scan your advance care plan and share it electronically with the doctors and nurses at Tauranga and Whakatāne Hospitals. So if you're unexpectedly admitted to either hospital, your advance care plan is already there on your patient record to let the health team know your preferences, especially if you aren't able to communicate.

Ask your GP or Practice Nurse about advance care planning at your next appointment. They will be able to get you started. If you are seeing a specialist at the hospital, they will also be able to help and answer any of your questions.

An advance directive (sometimes called a 'living will') is a statement about your future medical care if you are unable to make decisions. It usually sets out the circumstances where a person would wish certain care to be withheld and may be legally binding on medical professionals under those circumstances.

Ideally, you should discuss an advance directive with your doctor so that you have good information prior to making your decision. This will also give any doctor treating you confidence to follow your advance directive in the future, knowing you made a fully informed decision.

An advance directive doesn't have to be prepared by a lawyer, written in a particular way or even written down at all. It can be verbal. However, it must meet certain criteria to legally bind your health care team to withhold medical care. It's our policy that any advance directive is signed by your general practitioner to make it meets the legal criteria.

An advance directive may be included within an advance care plan.

An enduring power of attorney is the appointment by you of a person – an attorney - to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make or communicate those decisions yourself.  It is a formal document which is prepared by and signed in the presence of a lawyer or an authorised officer of the Public Trust.

There are two types of EPOA:

  • Property: This covers your money and assets. You may have more than one attorney for this.
  • Personal care and welfare: This covers your health, accommodation and associated care decisions. A doctor must first certify that you are not capable of making decisions for yourself before the person you have appointed power of attorney can decide.  You may have only one attorney for this EPOA.

The person you appoint as power of attorney may be a close member of your family/whānau, a friend or anyone else you choose. It is important this person knows your wishes, feelings and values to help them make the best decisions on your behalf if they need to. It is a good idea to include this person in discussions about your advance care plan, particularly those relating to future treatment options.

There are some decisions that by law a person with an enduring power of attorney cannot make, such as refusing consent to standard medical treatment intended to save that person's life or to prevent serious damage to their health.

A person with an enduring power of attorney cannot make an advance care plan or advance directive for the person who has appointed them.

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Advance care plans or advance directives cannot be used to give consent for assisted dying in New Zealand Aotearoa. The Ministry of Health provides more information on assisted dying here.