Living Wills and making decisions about life sustaining treatment
Many people have strong views about their medical treatment and how they should be cared for. However, when someone is seriously ill they may not be able to make these decisions for themselves.
There are several ways you can make sure that your wishes are carried out and that decisions can be made easier for those close to you.
Making a Lasting Power of Attorney in relation to your health and welfare allows you to appoint an ‘attorney’ or ‘attorneys’ to make decisions for you if you cannot decide for yourself. This could relate to day to day care and medical treatment and could also allow them to make decisions about life sustaining treatment. This could, for example, allow them to decide whether you should continue to receive treatment to prolong your life if you were seriously ill.
Another method is to prepare a ‘living will’. This allows you to list your preferences about medical treatment and usually covers the situation where you are seriously ill and there is no prospect of recovery. This could, for example, set out your wish to refuse medical treatment if the benefits of the treatment outweigh the risks.
You can also consider donating your body to be used for medical science to allow your body to be used for training and research. This is something that you would need to arrange in advance and you should register with your local medical school.
Alternatively registering on the organ donation register will allow your organs to be used for the benefit of others.
The Welsh Assembly has voted for Wales to be the first UK country to adopt a process where individuals will be presumed to have consented for their organs to be donated unless they opt out. This new presumed consent system could come into force by 2015.