Talking about voluntary assisted dying with your healthcare team
Talking about voluntary assisted dying with your doctor or healthcare team can feel daunting. This information can help you prepare for the conversation and what you can expect from your doctor or healthcare team.
Talking with your doctor may also help you understand if you could be eligible for voluntary assisted dying.
Make an appointment
Start by making a long appointment with your doctor.
If you are in a facility that provides voluntary assisted dying services, you should let the staff know you want to talk about voluntary assisted dying so they can arrange a time for a doctor or member of your healthcare team to discuss it with you.
If you are in a service that does not provide voluntary assisted dying services, you should let the staff know you want information about voluntary assisted dying.
The facility must allow access to a care coordinator from the Queensland Voluntary Assisted Dying Support Service (QVAD-Support) or a doctor. You should contact your doctor or QVAD-Support to arrange a visit.
Facilities that do not provide voluntary assisted dying services must state this on their website.
Before the appointment
Before your appointment, you should:
- think about the reasons why you are considering voluntary assisted dying
- think about your symptoms, such as pain, fatigue, delirium or difficulty breathing
- think about how you are feeling about your condition and how your life will end, so that you can ask what supports are available
- consider talking to people you trust about what you are thinking
- consider taking someone you trust with you to your appointment to support you
- let the doctor or healthcare worker know if you will need help communicating at the appointment
- think about any questions you want to ask.
You may find it helpful to take notes about the above with you to your appointment so you don't forget anything you want to discuss. If you’re unable to, you can ask someone you trust to write notes for you
At your appointment
You do not need to use the term ‘voluntary assisted dying’ but it will help to be clear with your doctor about what you are asking. If you feel more comfortable with terms like ‘dying with dignity’ you can use those instead.
Examples of ways to start the discussion include:
- ‘I feel like I can’t go on like this; would voluntary assisted dying be an option for me?’
- ‘I don’t see the point of another couple of months slowly dying. Can you give me a drug to speed things up?’
- ‘Can you tell me about the voluntary assisted dying laws?’
- ‘Can you tell me how I can get the substance to end my life?’
- ‘I want to know how you can help me to die.’
- ‘How do I get that substance to end it all when it gets too much?’
- ‘Can I choose how to take the substance to end my life?’
Questions you may want to ask
Your doctor about your disease, condition or illness:
- ‘What happens to people like me with this disease, condition or illness?’
- ‘What are the ways my disease, condition or illness can be treated?’
- ‘How will things change as my disease, condition or illness gets worse?’
- ‘Where will I be treated?’
- ‘What symptoms am I likely to experience as my disease, condition or illness gets worse?’
- ‘After treatment stops being effective, what could be done to help me manage my symptoms?’
- ‘What support will I be able to get while I am dying?’
- ‘What are the types of support available to me?’
- ‘What usually happens to people with my disease in the last weeks or days of life?’
Your doctor about voluntary assisted dying:
- ‘What is the process I have to go through?’
- ‘Can I decide when to take the voluntary assisted dying substance?’
- ‘How do I get the voluntary assisted dying substance?’
- ‘What if I my condition gets worse, and I can’t take the voluntary assisted dying substance myself?’
- ‘Can I choose where I take the voluntary assisted dying substance?’
- ‘Can I have people with me when I take the voluntary assisted dying substance?’
- ‘What if I change my mind?’
- ‘What will my death certificate say?’
- ‘What costs should I expect?’
- ‘I would like help to talk to my family. Can you suggest some information I could use?’
- ‘What other information is available about voluntary assisted dying?’
- ‘Who else can I talk to about voluntary assisted dying? Are there organisations I can speak to?’
What to expect in your appointment
Once you ask about voluntary assisted dying, your doctor or healthcare worker might ask you some questions to help find out what you want. They will also want to understand your broader care needs. For example, if you ask a more general question like ‘I wish my life was over, can you help me?’ they may ask you for more information to check what you are asking about.
Your doctor may also encourage you to talk with someone you trust about your situation and how it is affecting you.
Questions your doctor may ask
- ‘How long have you been feeling like this?’
- ‘What are your main concerns?’
- ‘What do you know about your disease and how it is progressing?’
- ‘What do you know about your treatment options? How do you feel about these options?’
- ‘What help with your symptoms would make your life more comfortable?’
- ‘What practical help would make your life more comfortable?’
- ‘Have you heard of palliative care? How do you feel about getting palliative care support?’
Deciding to make a first request
If you feel you have enough information and decide you want to access voluntary assisted dying, you will need to make a first request to your doctor. You can only make a first request in a consultation appointment.
If you decide to make a first request, you can still change your mind at any time.
The following questions might help you decide if you are ready to do this.
|Question Id||Question Test||Response||Next|
|Q1||When you asked your doctor or healthcare team about voluntary assisted dying, did they give you information?||Yes||Q2|
|Q2||Did you get all the information you needed?||Yes||Outcome1|
|Q3||Did your doctor or healthcare team give you the details of someone who could help you?||Yes||Outcome3|
If you decide you would like to access voluntary assisted dying, you can make an appointment with your doctor to make a first request.
You can keep asking your doctor or healthcare team more questions until you have all the information you need.
Make an appointment to see the suggested healthcare worker to ask your questions.
Contact QVAD-Support who will help you.