The End of Life Choice Act came into law on 7 November; this means that those over 18 who experience unbearable suffering from a terminal illness can now legally ask for medical assistance to end their lives.
If you are eligible and wish to receive assisted dying, The Ministry of Health advises that you can choose where you would like to be for this process, including at home or at another location, such as a hospital.
The issue here is that the Ministry of Health have yet to define the term ‘home’. If someone lives in their family home, for example, they can choose to receive assisted dying there. But what about if they live in a rest home or in a home with other family members? Who gets to make the decision?
We know, for example, that some aged care providers throughout New Zealand have already stated that they will not allow residents to receive assisted dying on site – although they will help them to find another facility that is happy to help them on their journey.
So, while the choice to receive assisted dying is entirely up to the eligible person (in fact, it is against the law to pressure someone in any way and health professionals can be prosecuted if they are found to have raised the issue first), the home you live in may not be the home you die in.
If moving to a care home is on the horizon, it would be worth asking any of your preferred facilities what their stance is on assisted dying, to ensure there are no surprises down the track.