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Advance Statements

Click on this link to read about End of Life Care: Advance statement about your wishes, published by the NHS. This section is taken from the information on this webpage.

1. Introduction

There may be times in your life when you think about what would happen if you become seriously ill or disabled. This may be because of ill health or an event that has changed your life, or how you think about things. It may simply be that you like to plan ahead.

If so, you may want to think – in some detail – about what living with a serious illness might mean to you, your partner or your relatives, particularly if you become unable to make decisions for yourself.

An advance statement is a written statement that sets down your preferences, wishes, beliefs and values regarding your future care.

The aim is to provide a guide to anyone who might have to make decisions in your best interests if you have lost the capacity to make decisions or to communicate them.

An advance decision to refuse treatment (also known as a living will, or advance decision) is a decision you can make now to refuse specific treatments in the future.

2. What does an Advance Statement Cover?

An advance statement can cover any aspect of your future health or social care needs. This could include:

  • how you want any religious or spiritual beliefs you have to be reflected in your care;
  • where you would like to be cared for – for example, at home or in a hospital, a nursing home, or a hospice;
  • how you like to do things – for example, if you prefer a shower instead of a bath, or like to sleep with the light on;
  • any concerns you may have about practical issues – for example, who will look after your dog if you become ill.

It is best to make sure people close to you – your family and / or friends – know about your wishes by talking about it with them.

By writing your advance statement down, you can help to make things clear to your family, carers and anybody involved in your care.

An advance statement is not legally binding, but anyone who is making decisions about your care must take it into account.

3. Making an Advance Statement

You can write an advance statement yourself, as long as you have the mental capacity to make these statements (see What is Mental Capacity?). You can write it with support from relatives, carers, or health and social care professionals.

An advance statement lets everyone involved in your care know about your wishes, feelings and preferences if you are not able to tell them.

You do not have to sign an advance statement, but your signature makes it clear that it is your wishes that have been written down. It may be helpful to those who have to make decisions about your care and treatment if you lose mental capacity, if you have signed the advance statement.

You have the final say in who sees your statement.

You should keep it somewhere safe, and tell people where it is, in case they need to find it in the future.

You can request to keep a copy in your medical notes.

4. Further Information

If you are thinking about preferences and wishes for your future care, this may be helpful:

  • Dying Matters website has information on talking about dying, and ideas and inspiration to help start a conversation, things to think about and letting people know your wishes.

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