The Council of Europe (EC) has published policy and practice guidelines for health and care professionals about medical treatment and end-of-life care.
See the document here: Guide on the Decision-making Process Regarding Medical Treatment in End-of-life Situations.
Though it’s written primarily for professionals, it was developed through a consultation process with patients and there’s some interesting reading on the ethical and legal issues professionals face around end-of-life care.
We might easily agree that patients should have the right to influence their end-of-life care – but if they’re unable to communicate and haven’t left an Advance Decision or arranged someone to act on their behalf through a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney, it’s not so easy.
This is why we urge Final Flingers on a normal sunny day when everything in the world is good to think about their preferences and values and capture their instructions – how they’d like their end-of-life care to be. Then they can share these instructions with a Keyholder on Final Fling. You only have to do it once and review it from time to time. What a load off.
The EC report comes to 3 broad conclusions about medical treatment and end of life care:
- Information: patients and their families should have access to information and dialogue with professionals to be able to make decisions; they should be encouraged to create legal instructions – like an Advance Decision or Power of Attorney to give others the right to make decisions on their behalf.
- Training: health professionals should have training specific to end of life questions so that they can facilitate discussions and planning with patients and be able to have robust discussions with other professionals to tackle complex situations and ethical dilemmas.
- Research: more research is needed to explore the range of complex and very individual situations that arise and how they are dealt with to help others in their decision-making. These should involve inter-disciplinary teams like social workers, health and care workers and spiritual support teams like hospital chaplaincy service.