By being human we all have something in common: one day we will bid farewell to our loved ones. We continue with the series of articles that we hope will give a better understanding of just what Acompalia is working hard to achieve.
we are continuing our series of articles that we hope will help readers understand better what Acompalia is working hard to achieve and how the team and volunteers at Acompalia can help the communities, foreign and Spanish, when the diagnosis is no longer optimistic. Today we are going to briefly present information regarding the Advance Health Care Directives and the Andalusian Registry of Advance Health Care Directives. As can be read in the dedicated portal of the Andalusian Government, the Statute of Autonomy of Andalusia, in its article 20.1, recognises the right to express one’s Advance Health Care Directive. Law 5/2003, concerning the Advance Health Care Directives, will in the territorial scope of the Autonomous Community, and Law 2/2010, on Personal Rights and Guarantees to die with dignity regulate this Right in Andalusia. *
What are Advance Health Care Directives or AHCD?
In simpler words, an AHCD is a document in which every capable person, can record their preferences in terms of health care allowing for the event that future illness prevents him or her from expressing themselves. This statement also allows the appointment of a person of trust, who will act as legal representative or health care proxy and make the best decisions regarding treatment in due time. One can also choose a second representative in the same document, if the first is unable to fulfil this function for any reason.
Who can make an Advance Health Care Directive?
To make an AHCD, a person must be of legal age or have been legally emancipated, and be considered capable of formalising his/her Directive. Everyone can express themselves freely, but let’s not forget that the medical professionals always act within the scope of the law.
Those professionals are obliged to respect patient’s desires when it comes to not starting a specific treatment or withdrawing one. However, we must also keep in mind that medical personnel will only start medical treatment if it makes sense clinically.
I want to draw up my AHCD, where shall I start?
First, talk to your health professional and, if you want to delegate the decision making to a legal representative, talk to the person you trust. Second, you need to fill out a form available online and that comes with a guide to help you complete it. You can also ask any health professional to provide you with a copy and help you complete it. Once the Directive is completed, it is necessary to request an appointment to register it at the Registry closest to where you live by booking an appointment and ensure that you bring all the required documents.
We remind you that in order to have legal value, it is imperative that your AHCD be registered in the Andalusian Registry of Advance Health Care Directives.
How can health professionals know that I have a registered AHCD?
Once registered, your medical record will include an access to your Directive, ensuring, if necessary, that the medical personnel can consult and respect your preferences.
We also recommend that you tell your doctor and family members about your end-of-life medical wishes. By informing people around you of your decisions, the easier it will be for all concerned to accept them and ensure they are enforced and respected when the time comes.
If I want to change my AHCD or if I am ill but capable and change my mind, what do I have to do?
Any AHCD can be modified or cancelled at any time. Simply request an appointment and register any changes or cancellations in the Registry.
If you are ill but can communicate your medical preferences when asked, your decision on the day will prevail over any previously recorded statements. The AHCD only applies in certain specific cases, when the patient cannot decide for himself/herself or express himself/herself.
NOTE: It is important to clarify any doubts or questions you may have when completing your AHCD. In case of doubts or questions directed to a health professional, your legal representative or the person in charge of the registration of your Directive, take the time to sit down and talk to the people involved to completely understand the intricacies of the wishes and preferences expressed in your AHCD.
Acompalia supports terminally ill patients and their families in Granada and along the Costa Tropical, southern Spain. Our Acompanions provide trained, bilingual volunteers to attend medical appointments with patients and family members. Our helpline provides practical support and a sympathetic ear for patients and their families when they need it most. When you need grief support, Acompalia is at your side from the early stages until the very end; it keeps you company and gives you helpful advice in these difficult times. As for legal advice, you need to be prepared for the end of life. Acompalia can help make sure that you receive appropriate legal advice so that all the formalities are properly taken care of, and that your loved one’s wishes are respected.
We are in the process of finalising our convention with the Santa Ana Motril Hospital, which will allow us to help patients in the South region of Granada and plan to organise a series of bilingual Spanish / English mini-conferences with their professionals. These talks will address various issues about the regulatory or medical aspects of the palliative care sector. We will inform you shortly of the dates of these meetings and hope to see you there.
Acompalia would not be the fantastic not-for-profit organisation it is without its legion of volunteers, members and followers. However, we need your support more than ever as, at present, we rely solely on donations to offer our “for free” services. This is why today, I am thanking you warmly for your continuous support and dedication but I am also asking you to keep on donating to help us provide free assistance to palliative care patients and their families. Please support us further by becoming a member for only 15€ a year.
Thank you and Viva la vida!
Fran Rajewski, Acompalia President