It may never happen. But what if you are unable to communicate or make decisions for yourself about your healthcare and everyday needs, such as looking after your property or pet?
This guide answers the most frequently asked questions around this subject and what you can do to plan for this possibility.
Who is this guide for?
What is an Advance Statement?
An Advance Statement allows you to leave instructions about your preferences for your healthcare and everyday needs, in the event that you are unable to communicate and make decisions because you lack mental capacity.
Advance Statement forms are freely available from healthcare institutions, or you can create your own.
Often people who are terminally ill prepare in advance in this way, but everyone should think about writing an Advance Statement before it's too late.
Once done, it's a good idea to check your statement periodically as your preferences and circumstances, may change.
Why do I need an Advance Statement?
An Advance Statement lets relatives and carers know the following, in the event you no longer have the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself.
- the day-to-day things you need taking care of
- your healthcare and wellbeing needs, and
- preferences for your living arrangements, in case you need to be moved
Is an Advance Statement the same as an Advance Decision?
No. An Advance Statement is not the same as an Advance Decision.
An Advance Statement lets you set down your preferences for how you would like to be cared for when you no longer have the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself.
Advance Statement directions for your care and daily needs
You can include any aspect of your healthcare and daily needs in an Advance Statement, but we suggest you consider the following as a minimum:
Is an Advance Statement legally binding?
No. An Advance Statement is not legally binding, but anyone responsible or involved in your care should take your daily needs and healthcare wishes into account where possible.
What's the difference between an Advance Statement and a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney?
An Advance Statement outlines your daily needs and healthcare wishes when you lose the ability to act and think for yourself.
A Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) enables you to appoint one or more people you trust to make daily care and healthcare decisions on your behalf, and decisions on your living arrangements, when you no longer have the mental capacity to do so.
The person or people you appoint as your 'attorney' do not have to be a relative or spouse.
Do I need an Advance Statement if I have a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney?
An Advance Statement is not legally binding, but it's better to have one than nothing at all.
A Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document. It will give you peace of mind that you have someone who can deal with your health and welfare matters when you have reached the point where you are no longer capable of making those decisions yourself. It also means that the power is taken away from healthcare professionals and from social workers who may step in to make decisions on your living arrangements.
Learn more about the legality of an Advance Decision document to refuse life-sustaining treatment.