Advance Statements, Advance Decisions, Living Wills
An Advance Statement is a general statement enabling you to state your preferences and indicate what treatment or care you would like to receive should you, in the future, be unable to decide or communicate your wishes for yourself. It can state your medical wishes as well as non-medical wishes such as your food beliefs or preferences or whether you would prefer a bath to a shower. It can include your religious preferences and any other particular beliefs and preferences that you particularly value. It enables those involved in your care to know what is important to you. It must be considered by those providing your treatment when they determine what is in your best interests, but they are not legally bound to follow your wishes. Advance Statements can also inform the people treating you who you would like to be consulted at any time a decision has to be made, if you are unable to make that decision yourself.
If you create a LPA, you can record an advance statement in the LPA document. An LPA is needed if you wish to give someone else, or more than one person, the power to make decisions about your care, treatment, and welfare if you are unable to do so yourself. The people who you appoint as Attorney(s) must take your advance statement into account when deciding what is in your best interests.
An Advance Decision to refuse treatment is the only type of living will that is legally binding. Any adult who has mental capacity can refuse treatment for any reason, even if this might lead to their death. However no one is able to insist that a particular medical treatment is given if it conflicts with what the medical professionals conclude is in the patient’s best interests. This is why an advance decision can only be a refusal of treatment. An advance decision can only be made by a person aged over 18 who has the mental capacity to make that decision. That person must be able to understand, weigh up and retain the relevant information needed to enable them to make the decision to refuse treatment; and then be able to communicate that decision.
When making Advance Statements or Advance Decisions it is advisable to consult your doctor and a solicitor as the process can be very complex to ensure that your views are taken into account especially when end of life decisions need to be made.