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More awareness needed on end of life rights, says charity

Few people have a legally-binding document to refuse life-sustaining care or to have a person act on their behalf, an RCN conference heard.

Few people have a legally-binding document to refuse life-sustaining care or to have a person act on their behalf, an RCN conference heard.


The conference heard that few people were aware they could appoint
a power of attorney for health and welfare. Picture: IStock

At a seminar on end of life issues, organised by the RCN and the National Council of Women, a lawyer specialising in mental capacity cases said many people were unaware of advance decisions, formerly living wills, to refuse specific treatments in the future. 

Victoria Butler-Cole, who is also chair of trustees of charity Compassion in Dying, said research showed that the majority of people believed their family could make decisions on their behalf if they were unable to do so.

'There’s not a special status or role for the family to make these decisions,' she told the conference in Birmingham on 29 September.

She also said few people were aware there is a power of attorney for health and welfare, in addition to the legal right for a person to appoint someone to help or make decisions relating to their financial and property affairs.

Ms Butler-Cole said it was no one’s job to tell people about these rights, which was why her charity had set up a website and free helpline to assist people.


Further information

Free advice and information from charity Compassion in Dying

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