Expressing your wishes in writing
Some people find it easier to express themselves in writing when certain things can be too hard to say out loud.
You can write down your wishes and preferences in a document called an advance care plan – this is also known as The Preferred Priorities for Care (PPC) document or advance statement in England and Wales (or Anticipatory Care Plan in Scotland, and Advance Care Plan in Northern Ireland). These aren’t legal documents but should be taken into consideration if a time comes when you’re unable to make a decision or communicate your wishes.
Your care team can help you fill out your advance care plan. Once you have filled in the form, a copy will be kept with your GP as well as any other medical professionals who are involved in your care. You will be able to keep the form and if your wishes change you can make changes to it.
Lasting Power of Attorney
You also have the option of giving someone Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), which means they have the legal authority to make decisions about your care and treatment on your behalf, if the time comes when you are not able to do so yourself. You can find more information about how to set this up from the Citizens Advice Bureau, or ask your CLIC Sargent care professionals.
Advance decision to refuse treatment
Under the terms of the Mental Capacity Act, if you are over the age of 18 and living in England and Wales you can state any specific treatments you may want to refuse in the future with a legal document known as an advance decision (also called a Living Will). In Scotland this is referred to as an advance directive, for anyone over the age of 16.
In Northern Ireland and Scotland there is currently no legislation on advance decisions – this means that they are governed under common law. However, medical professionals must still take advance decisions into account and it is likely that a court would consider it legally binging, providing the decision was made be an adult with capacity and is clear and unambiguous.
The information about what you can put in an advance decision can be complicated, so it’s a good idea to talk with a doctor or nurse who fully understands your medical history. They can explain what is and isn’t possible before you sign it.
Reviewed September 2015. Next planned review 2017.