This section explains the rights and choices you have as the carer, family member or friend of someone who can’t make decisions for themselves.
Doctors should try to make sure that carers and family members are involved in decisions about a person’s care and treatment. You should be given information about their illness and told which services are available.
You can make decisions for someone who lacks capacity if they have previously appointed you as their Lasting Power of Attorney for health and welfare. However, even if you are not an Attorney, doctors must speak to the relatives, partner or next of kin of the patient in order to make decisions about what is in their best interests. They should listen to your views, although legally they do not have to follow them.
Doctors have to respect a wish to refuse treatment if it is set out in a legally binding Advance Decision. Giving unwanted medical treatment that has been refused in an Advance Decision can be classed as assault. However, problems can arise if a doctor believes that your loved one’s Advance Decision is not valid or applicable to the situation they are in. In this situation they can decide not to follow the Advance Decision.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) gives you the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of a loved one. This can include decisions about life-sustaining treatment if they have given you that power. You must always make decisions in the best interests of the person who appointed you, based on what they have told you about what they want.
If you feel the person you care for is not getting the standard of care they need, you are entitled to make a complaint. Read our page on complaints for more information.