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What is a Living Will?
A Living Will is also known as an Advance Decision. It allows a person to write down any treatments they do not wish to be used in the future if they are unable to communicate that decision for themselves.
An Advance Decision becomes relevant if there came a time when a person was unable to make or communicate their own decision. It allows a person to refuse treatment, even if this leads to death. An Advance Decision is legally binding. This means that anyone caring for you must follow your instructions if you lose capacity.
If you would like to discuss a Living Will (an Advance Decision) with a member of our professional team, please do not hesitate to call our team on 01785 252377 for Stafford, 01782 987551 for Newcastle-under-Lyme, or 01270 446260 for Alsager.
Things to think about when making a Living Will (Advance Decision)
Whilst this is a very difficult subject to talk about, we find many people want their loved ones to know exactly what they would decide for themselves – if they could not make a decision for themselves. We ask our clients to discuss their Advance Decision with a healthcare professional who understands and is familiar with their medical history and then convey their wishes to their family.
An Advance Decision to refuse treatment has to be clear setting out the circumstances where a person would not wish to receive treatment and it should set out whether the person wishes to receive any specific treatment (even if this leads to death). A Living Will cannot be used to ask for life to be brought to an end or for certain treatment to be used.
Whilst a Living Will does not need to be made in writing (unless certain circumstances apply) – it is good practice to set it out in writing to avoid any uncertainty.
If a person intends to refuse certain life sustaining treatment, then it is essential they write down their wishes and this is signed and witnessed. They should hand a copy of their wishes over to their loved ones, GP and other medical professionals as well.
Information to be included in a Living Will
It is important that when making your wishes clear you think about all aspects of your care and treatment:
- Where would you like to be cared for. You may wish to be looked after at home or a certain nursing home or hospice
- What you like to eat. This may include foods you do not wish to be fed
- What you like to wear. You may be very clear to your carers there are certain items of clothing you would prefer not to be dressed in
- What kind of music you listen to. There is no point your carers playing classical music if that is not something you want to listen to
- What your beliefs and values are
- Who you would like to come and visit
What is important, is that everyone is an individual. Therefore, an Advance Statement is entirely bespoke. There are no rights and wrongs. It is exactly what you would like your family, friends and carers to take into account if you are unable to communicate your wishes. For further advice please give us a call on 01785 252377 for Stafford, 01782 987551 for Newcastle-under-Lyme, or 01270 446260 for Alsager.