What is a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?
A Health and Welfare LPA is a document which allows you to nominate a person or people you trust (known as Attorneys) to make decisions on your behalf in connection with your health and care when you are not able to make these decisions yourself.
What decisions can an Attorney appointed under a Health and Welfare LPA make?
An Attorney can only make decisions which you would have been able to make yourself.
These decisions could include:
- Whether you should receive medical treatment
- Whether you should have a certain diagnostic medical examination
- Whether you should move into a care home and if so, which one
- What your care arrangements should be
- What your daily routine should look like, for example, what you should eat and how you should dress
- Whether you can continue to live at home with support
The Health and Welfare LPA allows you to choose whether you want your Attorneys to be able to consent to or refuse life sustaining treatment on your behalf. It also allows you to include specific instructions and preferences about your wishes in respect of your health and personal care.
Having a Health and Welfare LPA is a bit like taking out an insurance policy. You hope that you will never need it, but it gives you peace of mind to know that if you became mentally incapable of making decisions relating to your health and care, someone you trust and best placed to know your wishes and feelings would be able to make these important decisions for you in the way you would want them to be made.
Why are they important and what happens if I don’t have one?
If you do not have a Health and Welfare LPA and you became mentally incapable of making decisions about your health and care, your family would not automatically have the legal authority to make these decisions on your behalf. Instead, decisions would be made by care professionals such as your Doctor or Social Worker in accordance with what they consider to be in your best interests.
Although family members would usually be consulted in the decision-making process, problems may arise if your family members do not agree with the decisions being made or your family members disagree with each other. In such circumstances an application to the Court of Protection for a one-off decision may need to be made about whether a suggested course of action is in your best interests or alternatively, for the appointment of a person as a Deputy to make decisions in relation to your Health and Care. Such applications can be costly, stressful and time consuming and there is no guarantee that your family members would be successful because ultimately the Court will decide whether a particular course of action is in your best interests.
Please don’t wait until it’s too late to do anything about it. Health and Care LPAs are incredibly important and dealing with this now may well prevent your family from having to deal with the difficult consequences of you not having made one in the future.