The Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

You may remember reading the results of the recent Care Quality Commission’s report. They made unannounced visits at hospitals for the purposes of assessing the care provided to elderly patients. The findings were described as alarming. The elderly in hospital are vulnerable at times of illness and the involvement of relatives and close friends can be crucial.

A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) would be invaluable to these relatives and close friends because it would give them authority to act on your behalf if you lose mental capacity. It also gives to your loved ones the peace of mind of knowing that they are acting in the way that you would have wanted because you have set out directions for them in the LPA or because you have discussed these matters with them.

An LPA is a relatively new concept. It allows you to plan in advance for the decisions that you want to be made on your behalf if you lose mental capacity. It enables you to choose the person who will make those decisions for you (your Attorney). The type of things your Health and Welfare Attorney could do for you are the giving or refusing of consent to life sustaining treatment; the giving or receiving of health care or medical treatment; decisions about whether you should stay in your home perhaps with the support of social services or other agencies; decisions about whether you should move to residential or other care outside your home and choosing the right kind of accommodation for you.

Decisions about life sustaining treatment are a very important part of the LPA. You can decide whether the Attorney should have the power to make these decisions. Unless you specifically authorise your Attorney to make these decisions then they will not have this power. Examples of life sustaining treatment include a serious surgical operation for example a heart bypass, the receipt of chemotherapy or other cancer treatment, and an organ transplant.

You can within the LPA impose conditions or restrictions. These are binding on the Attorney and they must follow the conditions or restrictions. An example would be your refusal to have certain medical treatment on religious grounds. You can also provide guidance to your Attorney. The guidance is things that the Attorney should consider but it is not necessarily binding on the Attorney. An example would be your wish to remain at home if at all possible to be cared for rather than moving to a nursing home. .

A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney is an invaluable part of planning for your old age. It enables your Attorney to take control of a situation if you become mentally incapable. This can give you great peace of mind. Given the personal nature of the decisions that may have to be made for you it is not usual practice to appoint a professional person. It would be better to appoint a close relative or a close friend.

A Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney is very important and great care must be taken when drawing up an appointment as precise wording needs to be used to avoid confusion. Dixon Stewart would be happy to discuss this with you. Call us on 01425 621515 – Kelly Taylor or on 01425 279222 – Helen Stewart or e mail