Making Informed Choices
To enable you to make properly informed decisions and understand the consequences of these decisions, we have put together some information for you to consider.
There are also some interesting articles here for you to read.
Click the buttons below to take you to the appropriate reading.
Thinking About Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
CPR is a treatment that attempts to start breathing and blood flow in people who have stopped breathing, or whose heart has stopped beating (cardiac arrest). It is an emergency rescue technique that was developed to save the life of people who are generally in good health.
CPR can involve chest compressions, or electrical shocks, medication or artificial ventilation of the lungs.
It is important to know that CPR is not as effective as we might believe, given how it is often portrayed on television and in films. In fact, the survival rate is as low in 2 out of 10 patients in hospital, and lower elsewhere.
The likelihood of CPR working will depend on the reason the heart/breathing has stopped, and any underlying health conditions.
Even when CPR is successful, a person can develop serious complications, such as:
· fractured ribs
· damage to the liver and spleen
· brain damage, leading to disability
These could require intensive care.
In some cases, a doctor will make a decision that given the individual's health and best interests, CPR should not be attempted. They would do so when it is their medical opinion that resuscitation would not be effective or that complications would result in more pain and harm for the patient.
Making an Advance Decision to Refuse Resuscitation
Everyone has the right to refuse CPR if they wish. This is known as a Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) decision or DNACPR form. It can only be issued by a health professional. However, unlike a witnessed advanced decision to refuse treatment, the DNACPR is not legally binding.
Your decision should be based upon both your own values and judgments and medical opinion. So do discuss these matters with a health care professional.
If you make a DNACPR (Do Not Attempt CPR) decision, it is noted in your medical records. You should retain the original document and keep it easily accessible.
You should let your loved ones know your decision, and where the document is kept, especially If you have serious underlying health conditions. It will also help them should you find yourself later without the capacity to make a decision.
A DNACPR order is not permanent, and you can change your mind and your DNACPR status at any time.
Take a look at these articles:
Information to think about, regarding Ventilation
You can listen to a BBC Interview with Dr Kathryn Mannix on the subject.
Things To Consider When Appointing A Lasting Power of Attorney
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document. It is used if you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself. It allows you to appoint one or more people to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf (known as ‘attorneys’). This enables you to have more control over what happens to you if you have an accident or an illness, and cannot make your own decisions.
There are two LPA:
One is for health and welfare and is about medical care
The other is for property and financial affairs
You can choose to make one type or both. It is recommended to do both.
When choosing an attorney, think about:
how well they look after their own affairs, for example their finances
how well you know them
if you trust them to make decisions in your best interests
how happy they will be to make possibly life saving decisions for you
Sometimes it is better to appoint more than one attorney, but there are important things to consider, such as whether they will make decisions:
separately or together - sometimes called ‘jointly and severally’ - which means attorneys can make decisions on their own or with other attorneys
together - sometimes called ‘jointly’ - which means all the attorneys have to agree on the decision
It is also possible to let them make some decisions ‘jointly’, and others ‘jointly and severally’.
Writing a Will
Writing a will does not always need to be a costly business and if your affairs and wishes are simple then you can find templates online and in the post- office for a “do it yourself” will.
However, there are things to consider before taking this route. The Money Advice Service sets out what you need to know.
Equally, many charities will work with professional will writers or solicitors to offer a no-cost service as part of Free Wills week.
If you have a charity you would like to support, and able to bequeath an amount to that charity on death, this a great way of writing a will.
Or, you can contact your favourite charity directly to see what is possible; a simple search online will often take you directly to their will writing service.
Whichever method of writing a will you choose, there are important things to consider, and you should first think about what you want to achieve.
A will isn’t just about money or property– it’s also about deciding who should look after your children if you die (appointing a guardian or guardians for them), and making proper financial arrangements for them as they grow up.
Similarly too, who might look after your pets?
Both the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust provide schemes to give you peace of mind if no family or friends can do this. See our Resources Page for these details and the Government’s information site.
Do some background reading before starting the will writing process, and be ready to have conversations with your family about your wishes.