We’re always interested to understand what motivates people to plan ahead for a time when they can’t make decisions for themselves. Usha Grieve from Compassion In Dying shares some insight relating to advanced planning for Health & Welfare decisions.
“At Compassion In Dying, we believe that everyone should get the care and treatment that is right for them at the end of life. We know that 82% of people have strong feelings about how they’d like to be treated or cared for at this stage – but what if, due to illness or accident, we became unable to communicate these wishes or make decisions about our treatment or care?”
Despite strong convictions, just 4% of us have planned ahead for this kind of situation. Fortunately, there are ways to help make sure you get the care and treatment you want.
- A Lasting Power of Attorney for Health & Welfare (LPA) allows you to give someone you trust the legal power to make decisions on your behalf in case you later become unable to make decisions for yourself.
- An Advance Decision allows you to write down any medical treatments that you do not want to have in the future, in case you later become unable to make or communicate decisions for yourself.
- An Advance Statement allows you to record your wishes, feelings, beliefs and values in case you later become unwell and need care or medical treatment.
Through our helpline service we speak to people every day about how they would like to be cared for and what they would like people to know if they couldn’t make or communicate a decision for themselves. They tell us about their hopes and fears for the future and what’s most important to them. Through talking to callers, we’ve learnt a lot about what motivates people to plan ahead and records their wishes for future treatment and care.
Choice and control.
Many of the people we speak to want to plan ahead so that they can have a say about their future care. People want to know their rights as a patient, so that they can make the choices that are right for them.
Making their wishes known.
Another common reason people give for planning ahead is to make sure loved ones and healthcare professionals are aware of their wishes for treatment and care. For instance, one called said “My mother hates hospitals and begged me not to admit her if she became unwell. So i promised her ‘no hospital’ admission. The Lasting Power of Attorney allowed me to enforce this.”
Taking the responsibility away from others.
By thinking through their options and recording their wishes, people are reassured that those close to the will not have to make difficult decisions when the time comes. This was summed up by another caller, who said he wanted to plan ahead “to take responsibility out of the hands of my loved ones. They and the doctor will know what my wishes are and will be spared making terrible difficult decisions”.
Relieving their fears or worries.
Many people tell us that they’ve planned ahead because they wouldn’t want to be kept alive when they have no quality of life. One caller said she had recorded her wishes on order “to avoid a situation where treatment is prolonged without the possibility of a meaningful life”. Others want to avoid possible pain or suffering, particularly if they have seen loved ones suffer at the end of life.
Another reason people gave for planning ahead is that they’re fearful that doctors or family members might purposefully ignore their wishes, or be unable to make difficult decisions, if they do not record them in a legally binding way.
Give them peace of mind.
Another important reason people plan ahead is to give themselves and those around them a sense of reassurance. Knowing that their wishes are recorded and known about means that they can get on with living now. Once caller said they had recorded their wishes so that they could “get on with enjoying the rest of my limited life, for peace of mind for me and my family”.