What is an Advance Decision and Should You Be Making One?
Advance Decisions, Do You Need One?
Who makes the decisions when you can’t? Separate to a Will, there’s something called an Advance Decision which allows you to write down any treatments that you do not want to have in the future, should you later become unable to make or communicate decisions for yourself.
When an accident happens to leave a loved one in a critical condition and unable to make any decisions for themselves it is traumatic but to have the additional news that your loved one has a severe brain injury which will require them to have 24-hour care is something that can never be imagined.
This is what the family of Polly Kitzinger lived through following her car accident in 2009. The BBC News have reported on Polly’s life after her accident and her family’s feelings of what Polly’s wishes would have been for her future care and treatment. You can read the full article Doctors wouldn’t let my sister die here.
A car crash left Polly Kitzinger, a disability rights activist, with devastating brain injuries. It was clear fairly on that Polly would never leave 24/7 care, or make her own choices about her life ever again. Unfortunatley, as an Advance Decision had not been made by Polly, her family were unable to persuade doctors to let her die. Polly’s family felt that if Polly had made an Advanced Decision sometimes referred to as a Living Will, then her doctors would have known what her wishes were in such a situation and would have followed her wishes specifically to not provide her with treatment to prolong her life.
An Advanced Decision is made during your lifetime when you have a full mental capacity to understand the implications of the document you are creating. It is advised to speak your GP or any other medical professionals involved in your care in addition to your family about your specific wishes. Once made, you are then in full control of any future decisions to be made concerning your healthcare and treatment when you do not have the capacity to make those decisions yourself.
It is often not enough for your family members and friends to know what you would have wanted in such a situation and therefore at that time, in the absence of an Advanced Decision, the medical professionals would be required to make the best interests decision, which may take into account the wishes of the family – however those wishes may not always be followed.
To ensure that your wishes are followed, you can make an Advanced Decision at any time. Michael Lewin Solicitors can assist you through this process and provide you with the necessary advice of what can be included in your Advanced Decision.
Once completed we provide you with the original document together with several solicitor certified copies for you to hand over to your GP and any other medical professionals who are involved in your care. More importantly, you can hand copies to your family members who can then provide a copy to any person involved in your care at the required time.
In addition to this, you may wish to consider making a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare. This is a document where you appoint an attorney or attorney’s to make decisions on your behalf about your health and welfare issues when you cannot. You can even specify whether you authorise your attorneys to make the decision to refuse or consent to life-sustaining treatment.
Once this document has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian it can be used when required.
If you want to be in control of the decisions that are being made about YOU or you wish to authorise a third party to make those decisions on your behalf, then please contact us today on 0113 200 9787 or fill out the enquiry form above.
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