There are steps you can take to ensure that your wishes are followed if you lose capacity. This section sets out the different ways you can plan ahead to record your wishes so that your family and friends know about them and so that healthcare professionals can act on them.
There are two ways you can make sure your wishes are respected in a legally binding way, if you lose capacity:
- make an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (ADRT), also known as a Living Will
- make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for health and personal welfare
Your wishes can also be recorded and communicated through:
- an Advance Statement
- an Advance Care Plan
- A DNAR form (although these are not legally binding in the same way as Advance Decisions and Lasting Powers of Attorney are.)
Planning ahead is a crucial part of ensuring your wishes are respected. It tells healthcare professionals to how you want to be cared for if you become too ill to make decisions or speak for yourself.
An Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (or Living Will) allows you to refuse treatment in advance of a time when you don’t have the capacity to make a decision for yourself.
A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) gives one or more trusted persons the legal power to make decisions about your health and welfare if you lose capacity.
There are some important differences between an Advance Decision and an LPA.
An Advance Statement is a general statement of what you want and what is important to you. It is usually written down and can contain any information you feel is important for others to know.
Advance Care Plans will normally be made in partnership with your healthcare team when you enter the end-of-life phase. If you are near the end of life it is a good idea to make one so that people involved in your care know what is important to you.
A DNAR (do not attempt resuscitation) form is a document issued and signed by a doctor, telling your medical team not to attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
The relevant law in Scotland is different to England and Wales, because the Mental Capacity Act does not apply there. The equivalent legislation in Scotland is the Adults with Incapacity (2000) Act.
The law in Northern Ireland is different to England and Wales, because the Mental Capacity Act does not apply there.