Natalie Koussa, Director of Partnerships and Services at Compassion in Dying said:

“We were shocked to read a letter printed in The Daily Telegraph on the 11th of January 2018, in which Louise Broughton details the experience of her mother who is currently in a nursing home with vascular dementia. Mrs Broughton has Lasting Power of Attorney for her mother’s health decisions and has refused all life-prolonging treatment on her behalf. However, it appears that her mother is not receiving the basic care that should always be provided, even if other treatment is refused.

Refusal of life-prolonging treatment is a choice that we all have a right to make and this can be expressed in an Advance Decision (formerly known as a Living Will) or in a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare, which come into effect if someone later loses mental capacity. Refusing life-prolonging treatment does not mean refusing good quality basic care, which includes ensuring that the individual is clean, warm and comfortable and keeping their lips moist if they are unable to swallow – something which doesn’t appear to be happening in this case. We hope that the situation s is rectified as a matter of urgency so that Mrs Broughton’s friend is able to have a comfortable end to her life.

“Compassion in Dying provides specialist information and support to people about their rights and choices when it comes to their future medical care and treatment and is the UK’s leading provider of free Advance Decision forms. Anyone with worries or concerns about their rights and choices can contact Compassion in Dying for free on 08000 999 2434, email info@compassionindying.org.uk or visit www.compassionindying.org.uk.”

***ENDS***

For further information or interview requests, please contact Ellie Ball, Media & Campaigns Officer, at ellie.ball@compassionindying.org.uk or 0207 479 7732

Notes to Editor:

An Advance Decision (to Refuse Treatment), also known as a Living Will, or an Advance Directive in Scotland, is a legal way of recording your wish to refuse life-prolonging medical treatment in certain circumstances, to be followed if you lose capacity to make or communicate decisions about your treatment or care in future through injury or illness. There is no standard Advance Decision format, rather there are just requirements any Advance Decision must meet to be valid. If it does so it must be legally respected by a doctor. Compassion in Dying is the UK’s leading provider of free Advance Decisions.

A Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare allows you to give one or more trusted persons the legal power to make decisions about your health and welfare if you lose capacity. The person who grants power is known as the ‘Donor’ and the person appointed to make decisions is the ‘Attorney’.

Compassion in Dying is a national charity (no. 1120203) that aims to support people at the end of life to have what they consider to be a good death by providing information and support around their legal rights and choices.

We also conduct and review research around patient rights and choices in end-of-life care.

Compassion in Dying provides free support for people to plan ahead for a time that they may lack capacity to make decisions about their treatment, including via a Freephone information line 0800 999 2434 and www.mydecisions.org.uk, a website the public can use for free to make a legally binding Advanced Decision or an Advance Statement.