Compassion in Dying has launched a free website in response to growing concerns about the low numbers of people planning ahead for their treatment at the end of life should they lose capacity, for example as a result of dementia or becoming unable to communicate their wishes.
The My Decisions website allows a person to draft an ‘Advance Decision’ or ‘Advance Statement’ online for free. Designed in collaboration with patients, clinicians and lawyers, the website takes users through different scenarios they may experience if they lose capacity to make decisions, whether due to illness or an accident.
People then get a personalised Advance Decision or Advance Statement to print, sign, witness and share, something which could make a significant difference to getting the care that is right for them.
Widespread demand indicated
Findings published by Compassion in Dying in 2014 revealed that whilst 82 per cent of people have strong feelings about what treatment they would or would not want at the end of life only four per cent of them have made either an Advance Decision (AD) or Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
Further findings published in September 2015 found that where wishes of patients were recorded they were 41% more likely to be judged by loved ones to have died well. Where such wishes were not recorded, loved ones were 53 per cent more likely to feel that the patient received treatment they would not have wanted.
Recent court cases have demonstrated the importance of planning ahead for the end of life, with the courts placing increasing emphasis on respecting patients’ autonomy. In November 2015 the Court of Protection established that the previously expressed wishes of a patient (Mrs N) took precedence over healthcare professionals’ views, even though the patient had not formally recorded her wishes.
This was a significant departure from the precedent established in M’s case in 2011 where significant weight was placed on the sanctity of life as opposed to the patient’s preferences.
An important decision
Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Compassion in Dying, said: “At this time of year many people make resolutions for their future – whether diet, smoking or work – but there are few decisions as important as planning to die well.”
“Compassion in Dying already supports thousands of people every year to complete Advance Decisions but there are still far too few people planning for the end of their lives, despite them having strong feelings about how they want to be treated.
Wootton cited the number of court cases in the past year illustrating how important it is for people to plan ahead and make their wishes for the end of their lives known.
She added: “It is not something many of us want to think about or discuss, let alone have the time to organise, that’s why MyDecisions.org.uk has been designed with patients for patients, to make it as straightforward as possible.”
“It is free and takes you through different scenarios you may experience if you are ill and lose capacity to make decisions, whether from an illness or an accident. At the end you get an Advance Decision or Advance Statement to print out, get witnessed and keep, something which could make a huge difference both to you and your loved ones.”
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