Older people are faced with important decisions about end-of-life-care, dying and death. In 2015, we participated in a parliamentary inquiry examining end-of-life choices and palliative care needs and services in Victoria. Since then, COTA Victoria has been closely involved as important of end-of-life reforms have been implemented in Victoria. We’ve asked older Victorians about what matters most as they approach end of life, basing our policy input on their messages about choice, dying with dignity and having their wishes respected.
Voluntary assisted dying
From June 2019, Victorians in the later stages of advanced disease will be able to take a prescribed medication to end their life. Only a very small number of Victorians at the end of life who are suffering and who meet strict eligibility criteria will be able to access voluntary assisted dying. In our submission to the Ministerial Advisory Panel we reinforced the principles of choice, autonomy, dying with dignity and respect for the wishes of older people.
Victoria’s end of life and palliative care framework
COTA Victoria has been active advocating for improved end of life and palliative care for communities and older people, their family, friends and carers. After extensive consultation, in 2016 the Victorian Government introduced a new end of life and palliative care framework. The Framework aims to support more people with a terminal illness to die at home. This work continues today with a number of projects underway.
Advanced care planning
In our consultations, older people have told us that they want their decisions respected, and that they support reforms to make these wishes legally binding. New legislation has now given Victorians better ways to plan for their future healthcare. Victorians are now able to create a legally binding advance care directive about their medical treatment decisions and a values directive about their preferences and values around care if they do not have decision-making capacity.
COTA Victoria has also run participatory forums to support older people to explore what is important to them and how to discuss their end of life wishes with family members.