Help with end of life care directions has just arrived – for elderly Australians – in the form of the ELDAC website. (https://www.eldac.com.au/)
Funded and supported by the Australian Government, it’s an internet tool developed by palliative care experts from around the country.
The package has documents, videos and information sheets. It’s designed to help elderly people decide what hospital treatments they would like to have at the end of their life.
This involves talking about a person’s values, beliefs and preferences so others can guide decision making when the person cannot make or communicate their decisions, says the ELDAC website.
ELDAC points out that fifty per cent of people “will not be able to make or express their own decisions when an illness progresses, so we need to be prepared.”
What are life-prolonging choices?
There are many layers to the documents and a very large number of resources in them. Among them is one called “What are life-prolonging choices?”
This considers some difficult questions and situations. These include a particularly common one in the elderly, where someone can be kept alive by technology, even when the patient, the doctors and their family know they will never get better.
“There are many treatments available that may prevent people from dying. These are often called life-prolonging treatments,” the website explains.
“These treatments may be used when it is expected that a person will recover and the treatment would therefore be temporary. There are situations where recovery does not or cannot occur and then the treatment would be necessary for the rest of the person’s life.”
It gives examples: cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), artificial ventilation on breathing machines, tube feeding, and kidney dialysis.
The substitute decision maker
The website also gives support and resources to any family and friends who’ll be involved when an elderly person becomes ill – and could die. It’s got examples of conversation starters, so family and friends can help people discuss these issues with the elderly before they get sick, so they have a good indication of what the person would want.
“A written Advance Care Plan/Directive will make things easier for you, as substitute decision-maker, if the need ever arises,” it points out.
One of its best (although almost hidden) features is a portal leading to advance care planning documents produced by health departments and areas in each state.
While it’s not necessary to use these, the professionals who have to read advance care directives will find it much easier if they are able to work with the advance care document they’re familiar and comfortable with.
To see a discussion by Professor Deborah Parker’s on End of Life Directions for Aged Care toolkits, go to
To see the advance care planning documents supported by the health care professionals in your health care area and state go to:
To see ELDAC’s discussion on life prolonging treatments, go to:
What do ‘substitute decision makers’ do? For information on this, go to:
For the details on life prolonging choices described in the ELDAC resources, go to:
For an earlier good-grief discussion on advance care directives, go to: