An Advance Statement can be an important part of planning for your future care. Anyone can make one. An Advance Statement will often form part of Advance Care Planning (ACP), which is a process of documenting care preferences for people with a terminal illness or life-limiting condition. However, you don’t have to be nearing the end of life or have a diagnosed condition to complete one.
Completing an Advance Statement is voluntary so you don’t have to write one unless you wish to.
Why would I want to make an Advance Statement?
If you can’t make a decision about your medical treatment, care or welfare, then a health or social care professional, such as a doctor or social worker, will make a decision on your behalf. An Advance Statement will help to make sure that your wishes, feelings and beliefs are taken into account when these decisions are made.
Writing an Advance Statement can also help to you and the people close to you to start a conversation about your wishes for the future, which can sometimes be a difficult to talk about.
We also have a booklet called Starting the conversation, which has more information about talking to those close to you about your wishes for future treatment and care.
How do I make an Advance Statement?
You can start by talking to your family or friends about what’s important to you, so that they understand what you want. It’s also important to discuss your wishes for future care with any health or care professionals involved, for example your social worker, doctor or nurse. If people involved in your care understand what you want, it will be easier for them to follow your wishes.
You can make an Advance Statement verbally, but it’s better to write it down. If it’s written down it becomes a permanent record of your wishes and is less likely to be called into question by someone else at a later date.
There are no formal guidelines for making an Advance Statement but it’s a good idea to write your name, date of birth and address on the document and to also sign and date it. Including your personal information and signature helps to confirm that it’s your wishes that are written down.
You should keep a copy for yourself and also give a copy to anyone involved in your care, as well as anybody close to you.
Is an Advance Statement legally binding?
An Advance Statement isn’t legally binding and doctors don’t have to follow it. However, it must be taken into account when someone is deciding what’s in your best interests.
The law says that anyone who makes a decision on your behalf must act in your best interests. When deciding what’s in your best interests, the decision-maker must, amongst other things consider:
- your wishes and feelings (this includes both anything you have said to other people and things you have written down)
- any values and beliefs that would be likely to influence the decision
So, because an Advance Statement is evidence of your wishes, feelings, values and beliefs it must be considered when any action is taken on your behalf.