When you are ill,
you can usually make your own decisions based on discussing treatment options
with your health care team. But if you develop a severe mental illness or suffer serious
brain damage (e.g. from a car accident or stroke) the medical team will make the decisions
for you. Such decisions may take little account of what you would have
wanted in the situation.
In 2007 a new Mental Capacity Act was introduced in England
and Wales. The Act is designed to protect people who lack capacity (i.e. are
judged unable to make decisions for themselves). It states that any treatment should take
into account what an individual might have wanted. The Act also allows anyone to make
legally binding 'Advance Decisions' - statements setting out which treatments you would
like to refuse in any given situation.
Polly championed the rights that are enshrined in the
Mental Capacity Act. Indeed, she helped others to write Advance Decisions. Ironically,
however, she never got around to writing one herself. Although we are relieved to have won
the welfare deputyship for Polly, this can never
substitute for an Advance Decision.
Please consider taking action
ensure that your health care choices will be respected. You could write
an Advance Decision. Alternatively (or in addition) you can appoint someone to represent
you by setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney now. Visit the sites below for easy,
step-by-step, guides of what to do.