If you are worried about how you might make decisions about your health and medical treatment if you are unwell, there are a few choices available to you.
Health and Care Lasting Power of Attorney
Putting in place a Health and Care LPA is the most comprehensive way of giving someone the power to make health decisions for you. It is possible to complete these types of lasting power of attorney online https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney but alternatively we can help you make arrangements so you don't have to worry about it in the future.
Advance Decisions (Sometimes called a Living Will)
An advance decision is not a power of attorney. It works in a different way and is a set of instructions that you complete to tell medical staff in advance what you would like to happen in certain circumstances.
Unlike a health and care LPA, you do not appoint someone to make decisions for you, you make important decisions in advance which are recorded in a way that health professionals are able to take into account.
The NHS publishes example advance decisions on their website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/end-of-life-care/advance-decision-to-refuse-treatment/. Alternatively, we can help you put in place bespoke arrangements to fit your circumstances.
How long does it take to put in place a Health and Care LPA or Advance Decision?
There is a set process for putting in place a health and care LPA. Once the documentation has been completed the powers of attorney are registered with the Court of Protection. At the moment the registration process takes between 6 to 8 weeks. Once the LPA has been registered with the Court of Protection, it is then valid and can be used by your attorneys if you lose capacity or can't communicate with medical staff.
Arrangements for putting in place an advance decision are less formal. You would need to complete and sign the document once it has been prepared for you and then lodge a copy with your Doctor and your next of kin. You would be relying on your family members to make the advance decision known to medical staff.
What if I haven’t made any of these arrangements already?
It is always better to have formal arrangements in place but if that is not possible talk to your next of kin to make sure they understand your health and care wishes. They can then take this into account if you are unable to communicate with medical staff at some point in the future.
Will medical staff listen to my family even without these arrangements in place?
We expect medical professionals to consult with family members when providing care, even if they have not been formally appointed.
Should I talk to my GP about this?
You could talk to medical staff or your GP about different types of instructions that can be given in advance to see if they are appropriate for you.
What happens if I have already made a power of attorney but it isn't appropriate any more?
It is possible to revoke an existing LPA if you have capacity by completing a one page instruction and sending it to the court of protection. You can then make alternative arrangements by making a new power of attorney or advanced decision.