Planning for an assisted death
If the person is eligible for assisted dying there are several decisions for them to make, including decisions about their medical care and decisions about what matters to the person and their whānau at the end of life. The attending medical practitioner or attending nurse practitioner will provide advice and support as part of this planning.
The attending medical practitioner or attending nurse practitioner will encourage the person to talk to their whānau about the plans and decisions. This planning will likely take place across several conversations and the person and their whānau can ask questions or for more information if needed.
The attending medical practitioner and person will agree the date and time
When the attending medical practitioner tells the person they are eligible, the attending medical practitioner and the person will talk about possible dates and times for the assisted death to take place.
The attending medical practitioner will give the person advice based on the person’s prognosis (how long they likely have left to live). There may also be practical factors to consider, such as if the person has whānau who want to travel to see them before they die.
The person will choose the date and time and fill in a form to confirm this.
The person will decide on the method for the administration of the medication
The person has a choice of four methods for the administration of the medication. These choices are set out in the law.
- The person can request that the attending medical practitioner or attending nurse practitioner administers the medication (either by an intravenous vein (IV) injection or by a feeding tube).
- The person can take the medication themselves (by triggering the IV themselves or by taking an oral medication).
If the person chooses to take the medication themselves, the attending medical practitioner or attending nurse practitioner must be present to support the process.
The attending medical practitioner or attending nurse practitioner will explain the different methods and make sure the person understands their options. The attending medical practitioner or attending nurse practitioner will talk to the person about what will happen on the day when they receive the medication.
Some of the options may not be appropriate or possible depending on the person’s medical condition. The attending medical practitioner or attending nurse practitioner may give the person advice on what is most suitable for them.
The person will be given time to consider the options. The person and their whānau can ask questions or for more information to make sure they understand the options.
Most assisted deaths are likely to take place in the person’s home
Most often people are likely to choose to die at home, if this is possible. The attending medical practitioner or attending nurse practitioner who is administering the medication will be able to travel to the person to provide this care.
In some situations, the person may live somewhere where it is not possible or appropriate for an assisted death to take place. An example of this might be the person lives in a residential facility that does not agree with or provide assisted dying. If this happens, then the person’s attending medical practitioner or attending nurse practitioner, with the support from the secretariat at the Ministry of Health, will provide advice on what options the person may have.
The person can choose who they want to be present and what happens
The person can choose if they would like whānau or other people to be at their assisted death. Some people might choose to have a cultural or spiritual leader with them as well.
The person can also choose if they want certain rituals or practices that are part of their beliefs or that are important to them to happen before or after the medication is administered. For example, some people might choose to have a karakia or prayer. A person’s whānau could sing waiata, say words or read something that is meaningful, or listen to music that is special to the person.
The person and their whānau can make these plans and decisions together. The person’s attending medical practitioner or attending nurse practitioner will also talk to the person about these plans and decisions as part of preparing for the assisted death. This helps make sure everyone is clear on what will happen and makes sure the person’s choices are respected and upheld.
For more information
More information about the Assisted Dying Service is available on the Ministry of Health’s website.