What are Advance Decisions and Advance Statements?
There are a few ways you can take control of your end of life planning, and making an advance directive and advance statement are just two of them. Here’s a look at the differences between the two and how they apply to end of life care.
What is an advance decision?
An advance decision – sometimes known as an advance directive to refuse treatment (ADRT) or a living will – is a decision you can make now to refuse a specific type of treatment at some time in the future.
An advance decision would become relevant if there came a time when you were unable to make or communicate your own decisions. You’ll need to put it in writing, sign it and date it if you want to refuse life-sustaining treatment.
Make sure you get your advance decision witnessed and signed by either someone close to you or your doctor. Then, tell your family you’ve made one and put it away on file. This could be with your GP and other medical documents.
What is an advance statement?
An advance statement is a completely different document. An advance statement can include any information that you feel is important in relation to your health or care. It allows you to record your wishes, feelings, beliefs and values in case you later become unwell and need care or medical treatment.
You could make it reflect religious and spiritual beliefs, or things such as food and drink preferences; clothing preferences; music, TV or film preferences, and whether you like a bath or shower.
It’s helpful to write down an advance statement, or let your chosen Lasting Power of Attorney know of it, if you create one. Make sure you sign your advance statement and let others know about about it.
What is Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows you to give someone you trust the legal power to make decisions on your behalf in case you later become unable to make decisions for yourself.
The person who makes the LPA is called a ‘donor’ and the person giving the decisions is called an ‘attorney’. Read our article that explains what a Lasting Power of Attorney is here.
What is the Mental Capacity Act?
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides a legal framework for those who can’t make decisions for themselves, giving people a process to follow when making ‘best interests’ decisions.
This Act gave legal status to advance decisions to refuse treatment and Lasting Power of Attorney.
Can you have both an advance decision and an advanced statement?
If you’ve made an advance decision then it might be a good idea to make an advance statement, too. This will help your healthcare professionals to get a better understanding of your wishes when they need to make decisions in your best interests.
This means that if you’re in a situation that isn’t specified in your advance decision, the doctors treating you are more likely to be able to make a decision that reflects what you want.
How does an advance decision or advance statement help?
As long as it’s valid and applies to your situation, an advance decision or advance statement gives you a chance to think about death and start planning for it.
It can give you peace of mind, and help out family members should they need to make decisions on your behalf in the future.
Who can make an advance decision?
Anyone over the age of 18 and with the mental capacity to make an advance decision can do so.
Find out more
While you don’t need to involve a doctor or solicitor, they might be able to help you express your wishes in the clearest way.
Take a look at more of our articles on planning ahead
As well as our article on managing healthcare and finances after losing mental capacity