Planning for death (not just the funeral)

LGBT Marie Curie

Thanks to Compassion In Dying for their thoughts on planning for death this week. “When planning for the end, consider your death, not just your funeral,” they advise…

When we think of planning for the end of our lives, what will often come to mind are funeral arrangements and ensuring your affairs are settled after you’ve gone. But what we often neglect to consider is the dying process itself – what healthcare and treatment we might receive and what our death will be like as a result.

Many of us have strong feelings about the healthcare we receive throughout our lives and we value having control over these choices. But what if an accident or illness leaves us unable to make or communicate these decisions? Who decides what care and treatment we receive at the end and makes sure we have the death that we want?

What many people don’t realise is that it is not your loved ones, but doctors. Without having recorded your wishes beforehand in a legally binding way, your loved ones have no automatic right to intervene and could be left stranded and powerless.

Fortunately, there is a way to ensure that these choices remain under your control, and Compassion in Dying has just made it easier and simpler than ever with our new and improved Advance Directive form.

An Advance Directive* (known as Advance Decisions in England and Wales and formerly known as Living Wills) allows you to record any treatments that you do not want to be given in the future, in case you later become unable to make or communicate decisions through injury or illness. It allows you to remain at the heart of these choices, giving you peace of mind that if the worst does happen your wishes will still be followed and you’ll get the treatment that’s right for you. People who have planned ahead in this way are more likely to be judged by their loved ones to have had a ‘good death’ than those who haven’t.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not expensive or complicated to do so.  Our new form is free, simple and straightforward. It takes you through different conditions in which you could lose capacity so that you can record your treatment wishes for each scenario clearly and concisely. It also includes a section in which you can state other wishes and preferences, such as where you’d like to be cared for, and your wishes regarding pain relief, pregnancy and organ donation. There is also space to include details of your Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare or anyone else you want to be involved in your care.

With this new form, recording your wishes for future treatment couldn’t be easier. It doesn’t cost you anything and you can work at a pace that suits you, but the reassurance and peace of mind you’ll get for you and your loved ones is invaluable. As you start planning for the end of life, remember to consider how your life might end, not just what will happen after you’ve done, and make an Advance Directive.

Compassion in Dying’s free Info Line can be reached on 0800 999 2434 or email us.

For more information see our website. 

*In Scotland, Advance Decisions are known as Advance Directives. Advance Directives are not recognised in legislation as they are in England and Wales, but are still widely recognised and used by healthcare professionals. If a decision ever had to be made in court, it is likely that the Scottish courts would take the same approach as England and Wales and say that a clear and specific Advance Directive should be followed. An Advance Directive can be used as evidence of your wishes if you lack capacity. Under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act, a person’s past and present wishes should be taken into account when decisions about medical treatment are being made on their behalf. More information can be found here.

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