Sharon, My Life, My Decision Project Coordinator in South Tyneside tells us more about her role raising awareness of the tools to plan ahead for future care and treatment.

IMAG0066_1Part of my role is to raise awareness of the use of Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment and Advance Statements.

The Advance Decision allows you to record any medical treatments that you do not want to be given in the future, in case you later become unable to make or communicate decisions for yourself.

An Advance Statement enables you to put in writing what gives your life meaning, what is important in maintaining your identity and what gives your life quality. I  describe the Advance Statement as ‘the meat on the bones of who we are’ and, although not legally binding, it is just as important for people who may need to make ‘best interest’ decisions on our behalf when providing our care.

During my work with My Life, My Decision I have been asked on a number of occasions ‘But what if I change my mind?’

These documents can be changed. It is the nature of the documents to grow with us. People are like clouds. Clouds are individual. There are no two the same. Their basic make-up is the same but each  grows and develops individually, responding to its environment and other influences.  And they change over time, as we all do.  We respond to our experiences and what is happening around us.  So it is important to ensure our Advance Decisions and Advance Statement grow and change with us, that we revisit them occasionally to make sure things haven’t changed and discuss those subtle changes with those closest to us.

Advance Decisions and Advance Statements don’t have to be once-and-for-all documents. The MLMD team encourages people to revisit their documents occasionally and  can provide ongoing support to ensure that people’s wishes and views are written down and continue to be relevant and current.

Advance Decisions and Advance Statements are a reflection of us. Like clouds, we are a constant work in progress, never still, moving forward, responding to our environment.These documents should also be seen as a ‘work in progress’, and as such they become comfortable and reassuring. They can be, and should be, changed to reflect our changing selves.