Commission of Audit confuses end-of-life care

The decision of the Commission of Audit to make the case for advanced care directives has been questioned by the nation's largest network of non-government health and aged care services.

Catholic Health Australia, which today in partnership with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) released an Advance Care Plan framework, said the Commission's terms of reference on "scope, efficiency and functions of government" made discussion on end-of-life care appear out of place.

CHA chief executive officer Martin Laverty, speaking on behalf of Catholic not-for-profit health and aged care services who care for one in 10 Australians in a hospital and aged care service, said though thorough care planning at end of life was crucial, governments should not impose its views for economic reasons.

"In anticipating the Commission's report, we expected to see proposals to reduce government costs and reorganise government services. Including discussion about how people die in the context of recommendations on the 'scope, efficiency and functions of government' was not expected," Mr Laverty said.

"End-of-life decisions are deeply personal. They require sensitive and considered thought. The health and pastoral professionals who work in Catholic hospitals and aged care services support people on a daily basis in making advance care plans.

"We hope the Commission of Audit was not trying to cast end-of-life decisions as a requirement of economic efficiency.

"The Commission specifically encouraged government to put in place mechanisms that would see more people aged over 18 adopt advance care directives. CHA does not promote use of directives, but does encourage use of advance care plans; there is a difference between the two.

"The Advance Care Plan framework the ACBC and CHA released today aims to assist people of all faiths and none in making decisions about their future care plans. Government should be cautious not to mandate a particular requirement for people to adopt care directives," Mr Laverty said.

The Advance Care Plan framework, issued by the ACBC and CHA this morning, can be accessed by clicking here.

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