Advanced Statements and Advanced Decisions
Advanced statements and advanced decisions help ensure that the wishes of the person you care for regarding medical care are followed if they lose mental capacity.
As a carer it can put your mind at rest if you know the person you care for has made their wishes regarding medical treatment clear. As with an information sharing agreement, if you can obtain their advance decisions in writing and share them with any health/social care professionals involved in their care, it will help ensure their wishes are followed.
Advanced statements are about a person’s general wishes regarding future medical treatment or social care. They are not legally binding but health and social care professionals should take them into account if the person loses capacity and they need to make a decision in the person's best interests.
Advanced statements should be written down if possible and can consist of specific wishes and more general statements about the person’s beliefs and values. It could include where the person would prefer to live and how they'd like to be supported. It could also include things such as food preferences, the type of clothes the person likes to wear, their religious beliefs or other aspects of life that they value.
The person you care for doesn't have to sign and date the advance statement, but their signature makes it clear it's their wishes that have been written down.
The NHS website has further information about making an advanced statement.
An advance decision (or living will) to refuse medical treatment is a legally binding statement in the event of a person losing capacity.
The person can refuse to receive specific medical treatments in the future. It can relate to all future treatment, not just that which may be immediately life-saving. An advanced decision should not relate to basic care such as prevention of bedsores and food/drink preferences.
To make an advanced decision the person must be over 18 and have capacity at the time of making the decision. It is legally binding in England and Wales, except in the case where the individual decides to refuse life-saving treatment.
It does not have to be written down, although most are and a written document is less likely to be challenged. It is also advisable that you ask someone independent to act as a witness and sign to say the person had capacity when they made the decision.
The NHS website has further information and guidance about making an advance decisions.
Free legal advice
Rothera Sharp Solicitors are working with Derbyshire Carers Association to provide free legal advice clinics to carers in Derbyshire. They may be able to advise you about issues surrounding mental capacity, Advanced Decisions and any other things you may have queries about as a carer. The clinics will be held on a monthly basis. More clinics / venues are planned around the county as the scheme progresses but you can also request advice over the phone or by email.
Other helpful websites
- Patient.co,uk - advance care planning
- Alzheimer's Society - advance decision
- Age UK- living wills and advance decisions
- Mind - advance decisions
- Mind Legal Line telephone helpline