What is an Advance Statement?
An Advance Statement is a written document that states your preferences regarding your care and treatment should you be unable to express your views in the future. No-one has the right to make a decision for you that you have the capacity to make yourself. As dementia progresses your doctors and other people who are treating you have a duty to take into account your wishes about how you would like to be treated both now and in the future and how these wishes will be adhered to should you lose capacity.
What Does an Advance Statement Cover?
An Advance Statement can cover any aspect of your future health care and treatment. This could include:
- What medication or treatment works well for you?
- What treatment you do not want, e.g. medication that has caused unwanted side effects in the past?
- Where you would wish to receive treatment, e.g. in the community, in hospital or a care home?
Some Examples of What People Include in Their Advance Statement:
- I don’t want medications which make me feel more confused
- I prefer individual therapy to group therapy because I am uncomfortable with strangers when I am unwell
- I don’t want medication which make me too sleepy
Who Completes an Advance Statement?
You can write an Advance Statement yourself, as long as you have the mental capacity to do so. You can write it with support from relatives, carers or health and social care professionals. An independent advocacy worker can also assist you in completing your advance statement.
Is an Advance Statement Legally Binding?
No, an Advance Statement is not legally binding, but anyone who is making decisions about your care and treatment must take it into account. Power of Attorney is legally binding and should be considered.
How Does an Advance Statement Help?
An Advance Statement lets everyone involved in your care know about your wishes, feelings and preferences if you are not able to communicate these.
Does it Need to be Signed and Witnessed?
Yes, you need to sign your Advance Statement to state that these are your wishes. The person who witnesses your Advance Statement is confirming that in their opinion you are able to understand what you have written in your statement and the effect it might have on your future treatment. You can ask your hospital consultant, GP, Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN), or Social Worker to witness your statement. It is worthwhile reviewing your Advance Statement as your views may change in the future. You have the right to change your views at any time.
What About Other Aspects of my Life?
You can create a Personal Wishes Form or complete the Getting to Know Me document to state your preferences and wishes about other aspects of your life. You may wish those involved in your care to know about any religious or spiritual beliefs you hold so that these are reflected in your care; or how you like to do things, for example if you prefer a shower instead of a bath, or like to sleep with the light on. You can state your wishes about practical issues, for example who will look after your pet if you become ill, and information about your dietary preferences. These forms should be kept safely with your Advance Statement and, although they are not legally binding, they can help those who care for you to know what your preferences and wishes are.
Who Should Keep a Copy of my Advance Statement and Personal Wishes or Getting to Know Me Forms?
You should make sure that you keep a copy safe at home. Anyone involved in your care should have a copy too, eg. your carer, family, GP, CPN, consultant and anyone else you wish to have a copy.
If you live in East Dunbartonshire an Advocacy Worker from Ceartas can arrange to see you and assist you in preparing your Advance Statement. They can also help you to identify the key points that you want to include in your Personal Wishes Form. The Scottish government has a guide to Advance Statements on their website.