The Care Campaign for the Vulnerable have called for an inquiry to investigate the extent of non-consensual ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ orders (DNR) given to elderly and vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic.
With many families expressing their sadness and dismay about how their dying relatives’ wishes went unheard, a Yorkshire based family solicitor is encouraging people to consider the importance of care planning and putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place.
Private client solicitor, Hana Gwyn, from LCF Law, said: “The Care Quality Commission found that DNR decisions were being made without involving the patient or their families and were being applied on a blanket basis, especially to particular groups, for example those with learning disabilities, which is harrowing.
“Unfortunately, many people are under the impression that next of kin are automatically able to make decisions relating to medical and care decisions if the person is unable to do so themselves, but this is not necessarily the case.”
LCF Law is strongly recommending that people make a Lasting Power of Attorney regardless of their age and health. Hana added: “Whilst some people may have organised a Will, which deals with matters in the event of death, the Lasting Power of Attorney provides a legal mechanism to look after financial affairs and matters relating to healthcare whilst an individual is still alive, but incapable of making decisions themselves, which can also involve choices about end-of-life care.”
A Lasting Power of Attorney allows someone, while they still have full mental capacity, to nominate a trusted friend, relative or professional to make financial or health-related decisions on their behalf in the event that they lose capacity. A financial and property Lasting Power of Attorney can allow attorneys to do a variety of things including paying bills and handling financial decisions, while control over medical decisions and potential life-sustaining treatments are covered by a health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney.
Hana added: “We often compare a Lasting Power of Attorney to having an insurance policy – we don’t want to use it, but it’s reassuring to have it in place. People sadly can lose capacity at any age through accidents, mental health issues, dementia, alcohol related issues, strokes or comas, and we have helped many people of all ages to register Lasting Power of Attorney over the years which ultimately gives them great peace of mind.”
Many of LCF Law’s team are members of the Society for Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), which are national and international bodies that promote greater regulatory frameworks and codes of conduct for solicitors specialising in personal law matters.