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Enduring Power of Attorney: What You Should Know

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In Australia, Enduring Power of Attorney, Power of Attorney, and Guardianship documents vary by state and territory. These documents provide information to health care and other providers about who can legally make decisions on a person’s behalf – crucially important for those who are ageing, those living with a disability, and those living with a degenerating disease.  

What is an EPOA?  

An enduring power of attorney is a legal document that allows the an ageing individual or person living with a disability, or living with a degenerating disease, to appoint someone to make decisions for them if their decision-making capacity becomes impaired. EPOA (and similar documents, according to state law), permits the appointed Attorney (legal representative, not lawyer), to make financial and/or health decisions for their principal. This does not mean the principal is unable to make their own decisions on matters unless it has been decided that the principal lacks total capacity.  

EPOA Explained 

Under aged care legislation, a representative is someone who is appointed to speak and act on behalf of another person. They could be a family member, a friend, a carer, or an advocate. This person may or may not be the person's EPOA.    

In the context of aged and disability care, it is important the caregiving organisation is aware of the legal relationships that exist in addition to the client’s or participant's choices. A client who lacks capacity to make their own decisions (as decided by a specialist doctor called a Geriatrician or Physician), will hopefully have in place an EPOA document (or similar according to state law) that will dictate the legal rights of others to make decisions on the client or participant’s behalf. Clients or participants who have capacity (who have not yet been decided as lacking capacity by their specialist), are able to continue to decide to whom information goes to, is received from, who is able to give the homecare provider your instructions, and who should be contacted in emergencies or incidents.  

It's important to discuss these important issues with your loved one so that you do not find yourself in a situation where you, your loved one, their EPOA, and their representative disagree about these issues. The decisions on these discussions need to be shared with your homecare provider.

Here are some guidelines for you or your loved one: 

  • All communication should firstly and always be centred around you or your loved one (the client or participant). 
  • Clients, over the age of 18, who have capacity (in the absence of documentation to state otherwise), can make decisions exclusively for themselves. 
  • Clients over the age of 18 who have documented lack of capacity by a specialist, who have legal attorneys in place, will have their wishes respected while remaining within the bounds of the legal attorney document. Following this, the client representative may or may not be involved, according to the directions of the attorney if legally in place.  
  • Where a legal representative is not in place by EPOA document or similar, the person’s family carers, and their loved ones and friends, will be able to provide guidance on the care they wish their loved one to receive.  
  • For clients or participants over 18 who realistically demonstrate a lack of decision-making ability, it is best that there is communication with their GP for a referral to a specialist for capacity determination.  
  • For all client and participants under 18, a parent, guardian, or legal order will dictate the person/s responsible for all decision making. However, those between 14 and 18 are given legal rights to participate in health decisions for themselves, known as the Gillick Principle, except in NSW and South Australia.  

If you believe a that an elderly  friend or loved one's EPOA is abusing their power, you can contact Elder Abuse Action Australia. The NDIS Quality and Safety Commission,  have  information about participants rights.

If you would like to learn more about EPOA laws in Australia, follow these links:  

It is important to note that legislation is subject to change. Take care of these matters, as they become very important as yours or your loved one's situation and health changes. 

In good health

Keep up to date with COVID 19 information on the following links: 

Australian Government Department of Health 

Victorian Health and Human Services 

NSW Health 

Queensland Health 

ACT Health 

WA Department of Health 

Tasmanian Department of Health 

Northern Territory Department of Health 

SA Health 

Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home companionship and personal care, and assistance to seniors (elderly and aged care), and any adult who needs our care at home including adults living with a disability who want to continue to live independently or age in their home. Right at Home is your local expert for issues related to caring for your loved ones and is dedicated to keeping you informed about home care. With no package management fees Right at Home allows you to get more care from your package or budget. 

Right at Home is a 'My Aged Care' government approved, home care provider for levels 1 – 4 and offers flexible in-home care services such as nursing care, after hospital care, post-operative care, respite care, dementia and Alzheimer's care. Right at Home also offers assistance with daily living and personal care such as grooming, hygiene, transport, shopping, meal prep, domestic services and social support, so your loved one can enjoy a more independent, vibrant life. Our nurses and caregivers are screened, highly trained, and insured prior to entering your home so you can trust us with the caregiving while you focus on your loved one. 

To find out more, please give us a call on 1300 363 802 or visit our website. 

Right at Home Offices in Australia: Adelaide Central; Brisbane Bayside; Brisbane North; Brisbane South; Brisbane West; Central Queensland & Wide Bay; Darling Downs; Far North Queensland; Gold Coast North; Gold Coast South; Greater Logan; Mackay; Moreton Bay Region; Noosa, Gympie & Hinterland; Sunshine Coast; Townsville; Central West New South Wales; Gosford; Hunter & Port Stephens; Macarthur Penrith; Newcastle; Northern Rivers; Padstow St George; Southern NSW; Sydney Central & Eastern Suburbs; Sydney Inner West; Sydney Liverpool; Sydney Lower North Shore; Sydney Norwest; Sydney Northern Beaches; Sydney Parramatta; Sydney Ryde; Sydney The Hills; Sydney Upper North Shore; Kalgoorlie Wheatbelt; Perth Como; Perth Midland; Perth Northern Suburbs; Perth West Coast; Southwest Victoria 

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