Advance Healthcare Directives

An Advance Healthcare Directive (AHD) is a document which sets out your instructions in relation to the healthcare treatments you wish to refuse or would like to request, in the future when you no longer have the capacity to do so. There is no legally required format for an Advance Healthcare Directive and you do not need a lawyer or a solicitor to make one. You are not required to consult with a health and social care professional to make one, but it would be useful to discuss your preferences with them and let them know if you have made an Advance Healthcare Directive. There are some legal formalities which must be complied with an Advance Healthcare Directive must be signed and witnessed. 

Any person aged 18 and over who has decision-making capacity can make an Advance Healthcare Directive. The Advance Healthcare Directive will come into effect when the person lacks the decision-making capacity to make healthcare treatment decisions for themselves. The Advance Healthcare Directive will provide Health and Social Care Professionals with important information about a person’s healthcare treatment choices. It will also enable a person to be treated according to his or her own ‘will and preferences’ even when he or she no longer has the decision-making capacity to make these decisions. A person’s ‘will and preferences’ are their wishes, views, beliefs and values.

There is no obligation for a person using HSE services to make an Advance Healthcare Directive. The person making the Advance Healthcare Directive can refuse healthcare treatment in advance even if this might result in their death, but they cannot refuse 'basic care'. (Basic Care includes hygiene, oral nutrition and hydration). An Advance Healthcare Directive must clearly identify the type of healthcare treatment the person wishes to refuse or request and the circumstances under which this should apply.

For healthcare professionals, it is important to enquire about if a person attending your service has an existing Advance Healthcare Directive and to comply with it if it is valid and applicable.

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