Assisted dying information for health service providers

Resources, guidance and training available to support health service providers, and their staff, as part of the establishment of this new health service.

Health and disability service providers may care for and support people who choose to access assisted dying services. All health and disability service providers should have policies and procedures in place to support their staff so that they can respond appropriately if a person in the service provider’s care asks for information about assisted dying or to access assisted dying services. Policies or procedures may vary between service providers based on the level of involvement in assisted dying services.


Preparing for delivery of assisted dying services

Assisted dying is a new health service. Health service providers are encouraged to prepare for situations where people may request information about or access to assisted dying. Health service providers represent the range of providers in the public health system, such as district health boards, primary care providers, aged residential care, disability support services. The level of preparation needed will vary depending on the level of participation the health service provider is likely to have in providing assisted dying services.

There are some actions that all health service providers are encouraged to take, whether or not they intend to provide assisted dying services. These include:

  • ensuring staff are prepared and supported for when assisted dying is available, including how to appropriately respond to requests about assisted dying
  • considering how the provider can respond respectfully and appropriately to a person requesting this option, including ensuring continuity of care is possible
  • considering what care pathways may look like for patients who request assisted dying and may have to move between services.

This information sheet and checklist are for all health and disability service providers to support readiness: 

Policy guidance for assisted dying services

Assisted dying policy guidance has been developed for both health service providers and district health boards to support the creation of policies that may be needed if someone in their care requests assisted dying from 7 November 2021. 

Providers will be able to tailor this policy guidance to their own context and level of involvement in providing assisted dying services.

This policy guidance is for community and primary care health and disability service providers: 

This policy guidance is for district health boards:

Assisted dying services are most likely to be provided in a person’s home or other community settings, rather than in hospital settings. Public hospitals are required to be a facility of last resort for assisted dying under the Crown Funding Agreement. District Health Boards (DHBs) are not expected to provide appropriately qualified staff to directly provide the assisted dying service. Appropriately qualified DHB staff can potentially provide the assisted dying service if they wish to and as agreed as part of their DHB role. In these situations, the practitioner and the DHB do not receive any additional funding.

Learning and resources 

Guidance and training resources about assisted dying for health professionals is available on LearnOnline.

This includes three main e-learning modules for all health professionals that aim to support and prepare health service provider’s staff for situations where a person they care for asks about, or chooses to access, assisted dying. 

The modules can be completed individually or as a group learning tool, such as in a team meeting. The modules are also relevant to practitioners who choose not to be involved in assisted dying, including for reasons of conscientious objection so they can respond appropriately if asked about the service.

Health and disability service providers may also want to consider how they support non-clinical and/or non-regulated staff with having an appropriate understanding of the assisted dying service. This includes receptionists, cleaners, support workers, carers or health care assistants who may interact with a person requesting or accessing this service.

A presentation has been created to support managers or team leaders to teach non-clinical and/or non-regulated staff about assisted dying. It is strongly recommended that the person conducting this session completes the training modules.

Assisted dying is a sensitive topic and may be difficult for some people. Please talk to your employer if you need support, including access to the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

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