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News & Events

Advance Directives (also known as Living Wills)

This week in the national news we have seen the disturbing story of Mrs Brenda Grant.  Mrs Grant was a lady in her 80s who was kept alive despite her express wishes to the contrary after suffering a serious health issue.

Mrs Grant had made an advance directive (commonly called a ‘living will’).  In this document she made it absolutely clear that if her health deteriorated then she refused treatment.  It also made it clear that she consented to pain relief, even though it may shorten her life.  The George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton mislaid the document and continued to actively treat Mrs Grant for a further 22 months.  The hospital trust has now paid a sum in compensation to Mrs Grant’s family.

It appears that Mrs Grant did not tell her family about the advance directive.  Had she done so, there may have been a way to avoid the indignity of the way that she was treated.

Advance Decisions

The document that Mrs Grant made is now called an Advance Decision.  It gives the maker of the document the power to refuse treatment in advance – even if they go on to lose capacity to make the decision.

However, the documents are not fool-proof and should be carefully drafted to reflect the wishes of the person creating the document.

An alternative is the Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare.  This document allows an attorney to make decisions about healthcare treatment, and even to make decisions about giving or refusing consent for life sustaining treatment.  This is not a document to enter into lightly, and certainly not without advice.  Nevertheless, it is a powerful document that can bring peace of mind to the donor that the wishes of the family will be listened to.

We have a great deal of experiencing is dealing with all aspects of mental capacity, and issues affecting those in later life.

Call us on 01633 867000 and we will be pleased to provide further information on how you can ensure that your wishes are acted upon in the event that you find yourself in a similar situation to Mrs Grant and her family.

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