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Information for health and aged care services

Some health services, such as private hospitals, hospices, and residential aged care facilities, may choose not to provide voluntary assisted dying services. However, the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 (the Act) outlines legal obligations for entities in relation to providing a person with access to information and practitioners.

The Act seeks to balance the interests of a person seeking access to voluntary assisted dying with the interests of an entity that does not want to provide these services.

Provisions regarding entities in the Act apply when a person is receiving a health service, residential aged care, or a personal care service from an entity at a facility. This includes private hospitals, residential aged care facilities, hospices, and some other facilities where accommodation and care are provided. It does not apply when a person is receiving these services outside of a facility, for example, when a person is receiving aged care at a private residence.

Obligations of entities differ depending on the stage of the voluntary assisted dying process, as well as whether or not the person accessing the scheme is a permanent resident at a facility.

Entity participation obligations

The information below outlines the minimum obligations for entities under the Act. Entities may choose a higher level of involvement in voluntary assisted dying for operational reasons or to support a person’s choice. For example, for a non-permanent resident an entity may allow access to a practitioner for an assessment instead of transferring a person.

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  • For permanent residents and non-permanent residents, the entity must:

    • not hinder access at the facility to information about voluntary assisted dying
    • allow responsible access by a registered health practitioner or QVAD-Support employee.
  • For permanent residents and non-permanent residents, the entity must:

    • allow reasonable access by a medical practitioner who can receive the request (for a first request), coordinating practitioner (for a second or final request), plus 2 eligible witnesses for the second request
    • if the practitioner is unable to attend, take reasonable steps to facilitate transfer of the person to a place the request can be made.
  • For permanent residents, the entity must:

    • take reasonable steps to facilitate transfer of the person to and from a place where the assessment may be carried out
    • if the person is unable to be transferred, allow reasonable access by the coordinating practitioner (first assessment), consulting practitioner (consultant assessment), or registered health practitioner (referral for determination).

    For non-permanent residents, the entity must:

    • allow reasonable access by the coordinating practitioner (first assessment), consulting practitioner (consulting assessment), or registered health practitioner (referral for determination)
    • if the practitioner is unable to attend, take reasonable steps to facilitate transfer of the person to and from a place where the assessment may be carried out.
  • For permanent residents, the entity must:

    • allow reasonable access by the coordinating practitioner
    • if the practitioner is unable to attend, take reasonable steps to facilitate transfer of the person to and from a place the decision can be made.

    For non-permanent residents, the entity must:

    • take reasonable steps to facilitate transfer of the person to and from a place where the decision can be made
    • if the person is unable to be transferred, allow reasonable access by the coordinating practitioner.
  • For permanent residents, the entity must:

    • not hinder access by the person to voluntary assisted dying substance.

    For non-permanent residents, the entity must:

    • take reasonable steps to facilitate transfer of the person to and from a place the person can self-administer a voluntary assisted dying substance
    • if the person is unable to be transferred, not hinder access by the person to the voluntary assisted dying substance.
  • For permanent residents, the entity must:

    • allow reasonable access by the administering practitioner and an eligible witness.

    For non-permanent residents, the entity must:

    • take reasonable steps to facilitate transfer of the person to and from a place the person can be administered the voluntary assisted dying substance
    • if the person is unable to be transferred, allow reasonable access by the administering practitioner and an eligible witness.

Private entity guidance

The Private Entity Guidance (PDF 1040 kB) supports private entities to meet their obligations under the Act while also ensuring that a person’s legal right to access to voluntary assisted dying is supported.

The Private Entity Guidance is intended for executives, managers and staff who are responsible for ensuring systems and processes are in place.

It is particularly relevant for organisations who may have a faith-based or in-principle objection to participation in voluntary assisted dying.

Scope

The Private Entity Guidance covers topics including:

  • overview of the process
  • voluntary assisted dying providers
  • healthcare workers and entities participation in voluntary assisted dying
  • entity participation obligations
  • public information about the non-availability of voluntary assisted dying
  • policies and procedures relating to voluntary assisted dying
  • good clinical practice in relation to voluntary assisted dying.

Information to support engagement by external practitioners

In some circumstances, external practitioners who are not employed by or do not normally provide contracted services to a facility may need to enter a facility for the purpose of providing voluntary assisted dying services. This may include:

  • authorised voluntary assisted dying practitioners
  • pharmacists from QVAD-Pharmacy
  • care coordinators from QVAD-Support
  • other support persons, such as interpreters.

Entities should clearly outline their process for external practitioners for each facility to ensure practitioners are aware of the requirements. QVAD-Support will maintain a database of facilities’ processes which will be made available to external practitioners who are required to attend a facility.

Facility details template

Please complete the facility details template to advise of this information. The template requests the following:

  • Facility contact details and contact person.
  • Process for external VAD practitioners:
    • Outline the process for external practitioners who seek to visit the facility to provide voluntary assisted dying services.
      Respondent will be given the option of documenting the same process for all external practitioners, or different processes based on practitioner type:
      • notification of visit (who, how)
      • is there a local approval process that needs to be followed? Please describe
      • parking
      • check-in location
      • clinical handover requirements.
    • Outline processes relating to management of a voluntary assisted dying substance:
      • How will a voluntary assisted dying substance that is intended for self-administration be stored at the facility?
      • In cases where authorised suppliers (QVAD-Pharmacy pharmacists) are required to attend a facility to meet with and supply a VAD substance to an administering practitioner, are there any particular requirements that they need to be aware of?
      • Describe any additional requirements.

Documentation

The Act sets out requirements for mandatory documentation in the medical record at specific points in the voluntary assisted dying process. Authorised voluntary assisted practitioners may choose to maintain their own medical records.

When practitioners provide voluntary assisted dying services in a facility, clinical documentation in the facility medical record may help to support continuity of care and communication with other health practitioners.

External practitioners should provide the facility with a progress note (PDF 596 kB) documenting their visit.

Webinars

Information session: Aged care providers


Information session: Aged care workers

Last updated: 29 November 2022

Contact us

Contact the Voluntary Assisted Dying Unit by emailing: VADImplementation@health.qld.gov.au

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Apply to become a voluntary assisted dying practitioner

Learn more about the practitioner eligibility requirements and submit your application to become an authorised voluntary assisted dying practitioner.

Education module for healthcare workers

Developed in partnership with Queensland University of Technology, this short online education module is available to all healthcare workers in Queensland. It provides an overview of the voluntary assisted dying process, and roles and responsibilites of healthcare workers.

Access the online module