Advance Healthcare Directives

What is an Advance Healthcare Directive (AHD)?

An Advance Healthcare Directive (AHD) is a document which sets out your instructions of the kind of healthcare treatments you want or wish to refuse in the future when you no longer have capacity to do so. There is no legally required format for an AHD and you do not need a lawyer, solicitor or advice from a health and social care professional to make one. However, some legal formalities must be complied with. You should also ensure that your Advance Healthcare Directive is suitable for your needs.

Any person aged 18 and over who has decision-making capacity can make an AHD. The AHD will come into effect when they lack decision-making capacity to make healthcare treatment decisions for themselves. The AHD 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 decision-making capacity to make 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 AHD can refuse healthcare treatment in advance. Their AHD must clearly identify the type of healthcare treatment that they wish to refuse and the circumstances under which healthcare treatment will be refused.

For healthcare professionals, it is important to remember to inquire about if a person using HSE services has an existing AHD and to support their instructions as they relate to decisions of care.

About this webpage and quick links

This webpage is from the HSE National Office for Human Rights and Equality Policy Team. It aims to present information and resources relevant to the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 to help healthcare workers implement the Act in their work.

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Useful resources

Follow these links to learn more about: