The decisions an eligible person will be asked to make as part of their planning for an assisted death.
Planning and decisions
If the person is eligible for assisted dying, there are several decisions 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.
Agreeing on the date and time
When the attending medical practitioner tells the person they are eligible, they will talk about possible dates and times for the assisted death to take place.
The attending medical practitioner will give 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 choose how the medication is administered
The person has a choice of four methods for the administration of the medication, which are set out in the Act.
The attending medical practitioner or attending nurse practitioner can administer the medication, by either an intravenous (IV) injection or orally (including by a feeding tube).
The person can take the medication themselves by either triggering the IV or taking it orally. 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 discuss the options and make sure the person understands them. They will also explain what will happen on the day of the assisted death.
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 and decide.
Most assisted deaths are likely to take place in the person’s home
People are likely to choose to die at home, if this is possible. The attending medical practitioner or attending nurse practitioner will travel to the person to provide this care.
The person may live in a place where assisted dying is not possible or appropriate, such as a residential facility that does not agree with or provide assisted dying. In this case, the person’s attending medical practitioner or attending nurse practitioner, with support from the Ministry of Health secretariat, will provide advice on other options.
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 to have certain rituals or practices before or after the medication is administered. The person and their whānau can plan this together and choose rituals or practices that are important to them and their culture or beliefs. For example, some people might choose to have a karakia or prayer, or to play music or read something that is special to the person.
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 ensure everyone is clear on what will happen and that the person’s choices are respected and upheld.
- More information about planning
- You can also get more details in our information sheets
- Related areas: Palliative care
Assisted dying is a sensitive topic and may be difficult for some people. If reading this information raises distressing feelings for you, there is support available.
You can call or text 1737 for free to speak to a trained counsellor at any time.