Get your plan in place

Denise Williams, Clinical Lead – Community and Wellbeing, Wigan & Leigh Hospice

Denise Williams

At this time of year many of us will be planning for our summer holidays – looking at what our options are, how and where we want to spend our time, and how we get the most out of our summer break.

The same approach can also be taken to planning for our future care. And just like a holiday, if we don’t plan it, when the time comes, we may not get what we really want.

Whilst we don’t always want to think about the potential that we may need future care, it can be really important, both for yourself and your loved ones to be clear about your wishes.

Planning your care

In the clinical world, we call this an Advanced Care Plan, but in reality it can be as simple as a conversation with those closest to you about what you would and wouldn’t want from your care.

By making your wishes clear in advance, you make the process of carrying them out as easy as possible for the people who are looking after you – and avoid them having to try to take these, often difficult, decisions on your behalf.

If you want to formalise your preferred plan, you can write down what you would and wouldn’t want and make your loved ones aware of this. You can even provide a copy to your GP so they can keep a record of your wishes.

It may be that you would want someone to be able to take decisions on your behalf if you become no longer able to. By completing a lasting Power of Attorney you can nominate someone to act on your behalf. More information on how to do this can be found on the government website.

Another option is to have an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment, which specifies what treatment you would not want and in what circumstances. This is a legal document that needs to be witnessed, signed, and dated. Health professionals involved in your care should be made aware and have a copy of this to refer to. You must also tell them if you change your mind.

It can be tough to think about the care we may need in the future, but we never know when the unexpected might happen and having a plan in place will make things easier for everyone involved.

This becomes all the more important if we are diagnosed with a life limiting or terminal illness. In this situation the healthcare professionals caring for you can support you with Advance Care Planning.

For more information on planning your future care, see here.