There has been a lot of media coverage recently about how families have been alarmed to discover that deceased loved ones had been denied positive medical treatment in the final days of their life, having been placed on an end of life care plan such as the Liverpool Care Pathway, without their knowledge.
There have also been suggestions that family members have felt powerless to resist when medical authorities and social services have insisted that their loved one is moved into long term residential care, even though they knew this was not what the person would have wanted.
Such reports have highlighted the benefits of making what is known as a Personal Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
A Personal Welfare LPA can only ever become effective if the person who made it loses the capacity to make their own decisions. Once in place, the nominated attorney will have complete authority to make decisions such as: where the incapacitated person should be cared for; what type of treatment they should receive; even decisions as to whether life sustaining treatment should be given or not.
Where there is a Personal Welfare LPA in place, medics and social services are bound to discuss decisions with the named attorney. In the event that there is any difference of opinion between the authorities and the attorney, the attorney’s decision will hold sway.
Nursing home managers have commented on the practical day to day value of there being a Personal Welfare LPA in place. It enables them to liaise directly with a resident’s family in implementing effective care plans, rather than being unable to act in what they believe to be the best interests of a resident, because there is nobody with legal authority to approve their proposal.
Whilst many people are aware of the potential benefits of a Financial LPA, the opportunity to make Personal Welfare LPAs has been somewhat overlooked. However, a Personal Welfare LPA can be hugely advantageous in ensuring that decisions about how you are cared for and what treatment you receive are made by those you trust the most and who would always have your best interests at heart.