A new report has revealed the UK is leaving medical and care preferences to chance.
The report from Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), following research by the Centre for Future Studies, highlights the ever-increasing number of people living with dementia which, combined with the failure to plan ahead for mental incapacity, exposes a looming crisis.
The research found that in the South East:
- 97 per cent of people leave important health and welfare decisions to chance
- 71 per cent would like a family member to make medical and care decisions on their behalf, in the event of mental incapacity – in reality this won’t happen without an LPA
- 80 per cent haven’t discussed end of life medical and care wishes
- 36 per cent admit to having made no provisions at all, such as a will, Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), pension or funeral plan
SFE member, Helen Jago, is an Associate with Palmers who specialises in LPAs and legal matters relating to older client care. She said: “Planning ahead is surrounded by worrying misconceptions, especially in relation to health and care preferences.
“Without the necessary provisions in place, potential life-changing medical and care decisions are taken away from loved ones.
“It is crucial to have a conversation with loved ones in order to make specific medical and care wishes known – such as, where you are cared for, whether you wish to be an organ donor and whether or not you would want to be resuscitated – otherwise there is a risk your preferences are not taken into account.”
The SFE campaign calls on people to act now and start a conversation with loved ones about end of life topics to remove the stigma surrounding the discussion.
Baroness Ilora Finlay, a professor of palliative medicine and member of the House of Lords, said: “When a person loses capacity to take decisions, it is sad to see families and professionals struggling to try to determine what a person would have wanted. Delays and distress can be avoided by appointing someone to speak for you when you can no longer speak up for yourself.
“Discussing medical and care wishes ahead of time ensures that care can respect an individual’s wishes, with the respect they deserve – even when it comes to fulfilling wishes after death, such as organ donation.
“It’s important to have an open discussion about future illnesses and possible incapacity. I urge the millions of people who haven’t given loved ones the opportunity to listen, to act now.”
For more information about setting up an LPA or advice on choices regarding health and welfare decisions, please contact us.