The following is provided as information only regarding health care directives. Individuals and family members should seek legal advice if they have further questions.
WHAT IS A HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE?
It is a written statement that expresses a person's wishes for their own health care. The Health Care Directives and Substitute Health Care Decision Makers Act was passed in Saskatchewan in 1997.
A health directive that deals specifically with health care is called a living will, or Health Care Directive. The Health Care Directive allows you to make your treatment choices known in advance in the event that you are not able to express them due to illness or disability. The Directive spells out the type of health care you would want to receive. You have the right to accept or refuse treatment at any time.
A directive cannot permit active euthanasia or assisted suicide.
In addition to your written instructions, the Health Care Directive also allows you to name another person (proxy). The proxy will make health care decisions for you only when you are not able to make or communicate those decisions for yourself, and when it may not be clear from your written directive. If the directive does not give directions for a particular situation, the proxy makes the decision.
The proxy does not need to be a family member, but should be someone you know well and trust. The person you choose should be at least 18 years of age and you should have discussed your treatment wishes with them. If you do not appoint a proxy and do not have a health care directive, your nearest relative (next of kin) will be asked to make health care decisions for you.
WHO CAN MAKE
HOW CAN I MAKE
- Any person, who is mentally sound and is 16 years of age. Directives are made By people in any circumstances, not just by senior citizens or the terminally ill.
The law requires that a directive must be in writing (handwritten or typed); dated, signed by you; or signed by someone in your presence and at your direction, and then witnessed by another person. If you sign the directive yourself, in Saskatchewan it does not need to be witnessed. If someone signs on your behalf, you must be present and the signature must be witnessed.
- Be clear and as specific as possible. The Law does not require health care providers to follow directions that are not specific enough. You may also want to make your wishes known about organ donation, blood transfusions, cremation, etc.
- If you are naming a proxy, indicate their name, address and telephone number. Two or more alternate proxies can be named. Your proxy can’t choose another person to make health care decisions for you.
- If there is a disagreement, any interested party may apply to the Court of Queen’s Bench for direction.
- You can make your own directive without the assistance of a lawyer.
WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER MY DIRECTIVE IS COMPLETED?
There are a number of people you may want to discuss your plans with, including your proxy, if you named one, your family, others close to you, your lawyer and your doctor.
To plan for an emergency situation, you may want to have a card in your wallet advising that you have a Health Care Directive. It should state where it is located and who to contact to obtain it. If possible, bring your copy to the hospital or Long Term Care Home upon admission. A directive becomes effective when you become incapable of making or communicating your health care decisions.
CAN I CHANGE MY MIND?
A directive should be a record of you current wishes. You can change it by revoking or destroying it, or simply writing a new one, which will automatically replace your old one. To make only a few changes, just sign and date it. It is a good idea to update your directive each year, or if there is a change in your health condition.
INFORMATION PACKAGES, FORMS
AND OTHER INFORMATION
These form has been provided by the Health Region as one of many options for your convenience. If you have any questions please contact your lawyer or physician as appropriate.