The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017, passed by the Victorian Parliament in November 2017, comes into effect on 19 June 2019. From that date, Victorians at the end-of-life who are suffering and who meet strict eligibility criteria will be able to request access to voluntary assisted dying.
The intervening 18-month implementation period was put in place to allow health services time to plan and prepare for voluntary assisted dying, and to develop resources for consumers and health practitioners.
One resource now established is the Statewide Voluntary Assisted Dying Care Navigation Service. It is currently staffed by two full time Voluntary Assisted Dying Care Navigators.
The program aims to ensure equity of access to support and information, regardless of a person’s health service provider or a health service’s level of participation in Voluntary Assisted Dying.
The Role of Voluntary Assisted Dying Care Navigators
The Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Care Navigator is a key support role for anyone across Victoria seeking information about voluntary assisted dying or assistance going through the process.
VAD Care Navigators react and respond to contacts made with them. They take queries from anyone and their role is to:
- Facilitate access to support needed, including End-of-Life Care, bereavement etc.Support ineligible people as requested
- Provide access to Support Packages
- Inform the future service model through evaluation
- Provide education to health services
They do not proactively engage all people seeking voluntary assisted dying, develop local policies or procedures, promote voluntary assisted dying or case manage individual requests for voluntary assisted dying.
Some financial support is available for people accessing voluntary assisted dying to help enable fairness and equity in access.
For example, should a patient usually see his/her doctor in an organisation which does not support voluntary assisted dying, funding can be provided to support travel to the doctor’s private rooms and cover any out of pocket private consultation costs.
The Care Navigators will work closely with the person, his or her carer/s, family and care teams to determine the specific needs of the person and if a Support Package is required.
Further Development of the Service
Much planning, community consultation and work has already been done to establish the Statewide VAD Care Navigation Service. But the service is very new, and further development will rely on feedback from the community – consumers, patients, doctors and health services.
For example, funding is allocated for two additional full-time positions, which will be filled later based on identified needs. It has not yet been determined where would be the most suitable location(s) and whether they should be full time positions or part time equivalents.
As the VAD Care Navigators said at the recent Voluntary Assisted Dying Implementation Conference, “A key output is to inform the future service development. We need to work together to help get it right”.
For more information on voluntary assisted dying, please see here.
DWDV would like to build a list of GPs who are supportive of VAD. When next you see your GP, please ask “If I were eligible under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act, would you support me if I wanted to use the process?” Then, let us know – are they supportive or not? Please help us to help you, and others.