Advance Directives

BJC Home Care Services respects the patients' right to participate in planning their health care, either directly through written instructions or by the appointment of another person to make decisions when the patients are unable to communicate their wishes.

An advance directive is a general term used to apply to written advance health care treatment instructions, often referred to as a "living will" and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

Living Will

Living wills describe a variety of advance directives. Usually they are used with a signed, dated and witnessed document indicating death-prolonging procedures may be held or withdrawn. A living will does not let you select someone to make decisions for you.

Health Care Treatment Directive

Health Care Treatment Directives allow individuals to state in advance their wishes regarding health care decisions. Such directives are similar to living wills; however, they are far more comprehensive and usually incorporated in a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

The Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is a signed, dated and, in Missouri, notarized document that allows an individual to name an agent to make health care decisions in the event the person completing the document cannot speak for themselves. This document allows physicians and hospice staff members to talk to the person you have chosen as your spokesperson. It becomes active any time the patient is unconscious or unable to make medical decisions. If you wish the withholding or withdrawal of artificial food and water, you must specifically give authority to do so to your appointed durable power of attorney. Giving a person durable power of attorney for health care does not give them control of your finances.

Your advance directive becomes effective only if you are unable to participate in making decisions for yourself. You are responsible to provide us with a copy of your advance directive. For your safety, our agency is unable to adhere to any advance directive we do not have on file.

How can I write an advance directive?

  • Use a form provided by your hospice social worker
  • Use a form provided by your doctor
  • Write your wishes down by yourself
  • Contact your health department or state department on aging to get a form
  • Contact a lawyer
  • Use a computer software package for legal documents

Advance directives and living wills do not have to be complicated legal documents. They can be short, simple statements about what you want done or not done if you can't speak for yourself. You may want to have what you have written reviewed by your doctor or lawyer to make sure your directives are understood exactly as you intended.

Sign and date your personal instruction. In Missouri, the appointment of a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care must be notarized. A health care directive must be signed by two witnesses who will not inherit from you.

Make sure your doctor and those closest to you have a copy of your signed instructions, and bring a copy with you each time you are admitted to the hospital. Provide a copy to Hospice. Make sure your family, physician, clergy, attorney and friends know of your preferences.