A new report from the SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) and Centre for Future Studies has recently revealed that the UK is leaving medical and care decisions to chance. The report looks at the ever-increasing number of people living with dementia. This, combined with the failure to plan ahead for mental incapacity, exposes a looming crisis.
As a result, a coalition of organisations, led by the SFE are encouraging people to tackle the taboos around end of life planning. They want to prevent an incapacity crisis.
Planning ahead is surrounded by worrying misconceptions. This is especially the case when it comes to health and care preferences.
The Statistics – Yorkshire and Humber
- 35% admit to having made no will, pension, funeral plan or a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
- 99% of people in Yorkshire and the Humber leave important health and welfare decisions to chance
- 75% would like a family member to make medical and care decisions on their behalf, in the event of mental incapacity
- 77% of people are worried about dementia and losing the ability to make decisions for themselves
- 75% haven’t discussed end of life medical and care wishes
- 57% believe that being on the NHS organ donor register ensures that organs are donated following death. This is however, not the case.
- 68% of people incorrectly believe that their next of kin can specify what they would have wanted if they are no longer able to
- 75% of the public would like a family member to make medical and care decisions on their behalf
- 1% of Britons surveyed in Yorkshire and the Humber by SFE have a health and welfare LPA in place
Health and welfare LPAs
Unfortunately, potential life-changing medical and care decisions are taken away from loved ones if they don’t have a LPA in place.
There are currently 928,000 Health and Welfare LPAs registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) across England and Wales. This compares to the 12.8 million people over the age of 65 who run the risk of developing dementia. This equates to a huge difference of nearly 93%.
The forecast shows the gap will continue, therefore leaving millions in limbo. By 2025, it’s predicted that 15.2 million people will be at risk of mental incapacity. It’s estimated that only 2.2 million health and welfare LPAs will be in place leaving 13 million people without an LPA.
Only 1% of Britons surveyed in Yorkshire and the Humber by SFE have a health and welfare LPA in place.
As a result, the SFE is urging the nation to act now and plan ahead to avoid this incapacity crisis.
Have the conversation
It is now crucial to talk to your family about your specific medical and care wishes if you were to lose your mental capacity. You should discuss where you are cared for and whether you wish to be an organ donor. Furthermore, you should discuss if you would want to be resuscitated if needs be. Otherwise, there is a risk your wishes will not be considered.
The campaign calls on people to act now. It encourages people to start a conversation with loved ones about end of life topics. The aim is to eventually remove the stigma surrounding the discussion.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?
An LPA is a powerful legal document. It allows a person (or ‘donor’) to choose one or more individuals (known as attorneys) to handle their affairs if they are no longer able to do so themselves. Attorneys are usually trusted family members or friends. However people can also select a solicitor as their attorney.
An LPA must be put in place while a person has the mental capacity to do so. It’s important to plan ahead by having your wishes down on paper as early as possible. This is to ensure that whoever you choose to manage your affairs can retain control, should you lose capacity.
There are two types of LPAs
- a health and welfare LPA (H&W LPA), and
- a property and financial affairs LPA (P&F LPA)
The former covers things like choices around care plans, medical treatment and end of life wishes. The latter deals with the management of property, other assets, bank accounts and bill payments.