Plan Ahead

St Mary’s Hospice recently invited local lawyers to a training day, to show us the importance of planning ahead to make sure that you get the care that you want and don’t get the things you don’t want, if you are no longer able to make or communicate your own decisions.

We know how to approach clients and how to ask awkward questions but I think we were all surprised by the things we were shown and I have already put the advice we were given in to action.

We prepare lasting Powers of Attorney for clients to allow their trusted friends and/or family to make difficult decisions for them if the need arises. We were told that the LPAs are only really the legal framework and there is a lot to do alongside them to make sure that whoever you appoint knows what you would want. You can’t assume that they will already know and in many cases, people will make choices on the basis of what they would want themselves or what they think is best for them. What they should do is make choices based on what you would want. To do that, they need to have frank conversations and written guidance from you.

Have a look online for the ‘I didn’t want that’ video from Dying Matters. It gives some moving examples of people making the wrong choices on the wrong basis because they didn’t have the right information.

We will now discuss an Advance Care Plan with all our clients making a Health and Welfare LPA. It is not legally binding but is a good place to record wishes and choices, like whether you would like to remain at home rather than going in to residential care or hospital to be cared for. We can also discuss an Advanced Decision to Refuse Treatment if someone can predict what treatment they might be offered if their condition worsens. If they specifically do not want that treatment, even though refusing it might shorten their life, they have the right to refuse it. ADRTs are legally binding provide they are properly done. The best known example of this is the Do Not Apply CPR decisions that are made and recorded and kept in someone’s care plan at home, so an ambulance crew would know exactly where to look for it if they were called in an emergency. There are other invasive treatments that you might not want and you should discuss these with your GP and your family and then properly record them in an ADRT.

Come and talk to us if any of this is ringing bells with you.

Thank you to St Mary’s for sharing their advice and expertise with us.

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