Your rights as a decision-maker

My husband has dementia as well as some other serious medical problems and the doctors want to operate, but I don’t know if that is what he would want. I don’t know my rights when I talk to the doctors.


  • Acting on behalf of another person can be difficult, especially if it is not clear what they would have decided themselves.
  • While there are small variations in State and Territory legislation, your rights as a substitute decision-maker are basically the same as those the affected person would have – to be fully informed about their care and proposed treatment, and to decide whether or not to consent to these treatments.

Dealing with the health system

  • Some of the things you can do when dealing with the health system are to:
    • be familiar with the person’s health condition and possible decisions that may arise in the future
    • introduce yourself to any treating health professionals and make sure they understand your role
    • find out all relevant information about the person’s care, any treatments being considered and the pros and cons of these
    • be prepared to advocate strongly on the person’s behalf if necessary
    • have available certified copies of documents such as an enduring guardian appointment or an advance care directive, and
    • get support from family, professionals or an organisation such as Dementia Australia if you are having difficulty carrying out this role.