The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (Vic) (the Act) commences in Australia’s state of Victoria on 19 June 2019. The Act will allow Victorians at the end of life who are suffering and who meet strict eligibility criteria to request access to voluntary assisted dying (VAD).
As only medical practitioners can authorise access to VAD, aged care providers will not generally have any direct role to play in VAD. However, as many aged care recipients are at end of life, it is likely that some may seek to access VAD within the context of the aged-care environment, whether in home care or residential care. Providers should be prepared to deal with requests from care recipients in relation to VAD.
Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services is recommending that health services (including aged care providers) consider matters such as:
- The extent to which they will participate in VAD.
- How to ensure staff understand the upcoming changes to the law.
- The policies, governance and leadership arrangements necessary to respond to VAD.
- How care recipients requesting access to VAD will be supported, e.g., whether the provider will refer them to a qualified medical practitioner who can consider the request.
Complementing this, the Victorian Healthcare Association has developed a model of care resource. The resource aims to support the implementation of consistent care pathways across Victoria. Its focus is on placing the needs of a person requesting VAD at the centre of care while providing support to those providing health care (here).
VAD presents some specific legal and operational challenges for aged-care providers. The full article by Laura Kerridge, Felicity Iredale and Anita Courtney of Ally Law member Russell Kennedy Pty Ltd.