Home care service workers
Health and aged care workers who provide home care services may become involved in the voluntary assisted dying process in a number of ways, including:
- responding to questions and providing information about voluntary assisted dying
- providing ongoing care, treatment and support for the person and their family
- medical practitioners, nurse practitioners and registered nurses may apply to become an authorised voluntary assisted dying practitioner.
A health or aged care worker can decide not to participate in voluntary assisted dying. Deciding whether to participate in voluntary assisted dying can be a difficult decision. The position of a health or aged care worker’s employer or workplace may also impact the decision. For example, some organisations may have faith-based or in-principle objections to voluntary assisted dying.
When a health or aged care worker decides not to participate in voluntary assisted dying because of their personal beliefs, this is called ‘conscientious objection’. Registered health practitioners (for example, a doctor, nurse, or physiotherapist) and speech pathologists have specific obligations under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 (the Act) if they conscientiously object to participating in voluntary assisted dying. They must:
- inform the person that other health practitioners, health service providers or services may be able to assist
- give the person information about where they can get further information and support, or the details of the Queensland Voluntary Assisted Dying Support Service (QVAD-Support).
Health and aged care workers who are not registered health practitioners or speech pathologists (for example personal care workers) do not have any particular legal obligations regarding voluntary assisted dying but may also wish to conscientiously object to participation.
All health and aged care workers may find it helpful to discuss their roles and responsibilities in relation to voluntary assisted dying with their manager or employer.
Responding to questions about voluntary assisted dying
Conversations about death and dying can be complex. If a person raises the topic of voluntary assisted dying, it is important to respond appropriately and with respect for the person’s views.
Any health or aged care worker can provide information about voluntary assisted dying to a person who requests it, if they feel comfortable and have the knowledge to do so. Health and aged care workers can contact QVAD-Support for further information or complete an online education module on voluntary assisted dying, accessible to all health and aged care workers in Queensland.
Starting a conversation about voluntary assisted dying
The Act is very strict regarding who can start a conversation with a person about voluntary assisted dying. Only doctors and nurse practitioners are allowed to initiate a conversation about voluntary assisted dying. They must, at the same time, inform the person about treatment options available and the likely outcomes of that treatment, and palliative care and treatment options available and the likely outcomes of that care and treatment.
All other health and aged care workers can respond to requests for information about voluntary assisted dying, if they feel comfortable doing so, but are not permitted to bring up the topic of voluntary assisted dying before the person raises the issue themselves.
Your professional association may have resources for voluntary assisted dying. You can also ask your employer about resources and policies they may have about voluntary assisted dying, as well as support for health and aged care workers providing services in home care settings.
- Queensland Voluntary Assisted Dying Handbook (QVAD Handbook)—provides detailed information regarding all aspects of the voluntary assisted dying process in Queensland.
- Voluntary assisted dying education module for healthcare workers—an online module accessible to Queensland Health staff via iLearn and to staff external to Queensland Health via the Queensland Health website.
- QVAD-Support—provides information and support for the person accessing voluntary assisted dying, and health and aged care workers with questions about voluntary assisted dying.
- Download the Home care worker fact sheet (PDF 310 kB)