Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Protecting Choice and Refusing life-extending Interventions

Image result for celia kitzingerProfessor Celia Kitzinger has co-authored a report on how to promote understanding and uptake of 'Advance Decisions'. An Advance Decision  is a tool for people who want to protect their own choices if they lose capacity to speak for themselves (e.g. because of brain injury from a stroke or a car crash). For example, some people want to refuse interventions to artificially extend their lives if they are in a permanent vegetative state.

The report, co-authored with Professor Jenny Kitzinger (Cardiff University) was commissioned by the Welsh Minster for Health and Social Services.  It recommends a series of steps including public awareness campaigns (to counteract the widespread myth that a relative can refuse treatment on your behalf) and training for health care professionals (who often don’t understand the law in this area). The report, published this month, has prompted media attention,  been endorsed by leading barristers and GPs, and prompted extensive debate.  You can read the full findings and recommendations here: goo.gl/qeQuin

Celia Kitzinger and Sue Wilkinson are co-teaching a training course on how to help people write Advance Decisions.  It will run in May and is approved by the British Psychological Society.  Book your place here https://www.bps.org.uk/events/advance-decisions-refuse-treatment-“living-wills”-choices-end-life-part-2. Celia and Sue also regularly run training days on Advance Decisions for GPs and other crucial health care professionals, as well as providing support for individuals to write Advance Decisions for themselves.

Professor Celia Kitzinger says: “People often think it is complicated to write an Advance Decision – or that you need a lawyer.  This just isn’t true”. She says “It’s possible to record your wishes in under an hour by using a simple website such as www.mydecisions.org.uk. Then all you have to do is print it out, sign it, have it witnessed, and give it to the people who need to know about it".  Professor Sue Wilkinson adds: "Like wills, Advance Decisions are not just for terminally ill or elderly people.  We are all at risk of losing capacity to make our own decisions - for example after a car crash or sporting accident.  Everyone  should consider doing one!"

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