COVID-19 advice Plan your care Download your Advance Care Plan With constant news updates about the coronavirus, many of us may be feeling anxious about our own loved ones and may even be reflecting on our own mortality. At Mountbatten, our mission is to encourage and support people to talk about death and dying openly. Even if it seems a painful or morbid topic, being practical and straightforward with each other now could lessen the worry and burden on our loved ones in the future. For example, if you are the only person who knows the details or location of your bank accounts, pension, gas and electricity provider, savings, rent or mortgage, car details, loans and debts, passports and birth certificates etc, and you suddenly became too ill to talk or maybe died, a lack of information could mean further distress to the people closest to you. This period of lockdown, while we are all staying safe in our own homes, seems a good time to make a drink, take a pen and paper, sit down and write a list of “important information about me and where to find vital documents” to put somewhere safe, just in case, and could one day make a significant difference to the people you care about. Advance care planning can be done whether you are in good health or not, in anticipation of a time in the future when you may lose capacity and be unable to communicate. None of us are immune from illness, an unpredictable medical incident or an unexpected accident, which in some cases could result in a loss of capacity or the ability to speak up for ourselves. Although planning is a normal part of life, planning ahead for illness, dying and death might seem a very difficult topic to think about. You may find other people are resistant to the idea, feeling it is not the right time, too upsetting or ‘morbid’. However, planning ahead in this way can be very positive and empowering; an Advance Care Plan can help to ensure that you continue to have an influence over decisions that may need to be made about your care and treatment, even if you cannot speak up for yourself. Additionally, your family or carers will be spared from having to guess what you would have wanted and can speak up with confidence on your behalf. To create an Advance Care Plan People who are already under the care of Mountbatten should speak to the health professional leading their care about creating an advance care plan, the document can be produced electronically and will remain on the individual’s patient record. For people who are not under the care of Mountbatten, whether in good or poor health, the new Mountbatten Advance Care Planning booklet, can be used to record wishes and preferences. People often do not realise that their loved ones have no legal right to request or refuse treatment or care on their behalf; only a legally appointed Lasting Power of Attorney for health and wellbeing has that right. If I choose not to create an Advance Care Plan, can my family decide about my care and treatment? Although an Advance Care Plan is not legally enforceable, it does provide the opportunity to nominate someone who you would like to be included in discussions if ‘best interests decisions’ need to be made. Your request should be respected and deciding this early on could reduce family anxiety or conflict. People often do not realise that their loved ones or people closest to them have no legal right to request or refuse treatment or care on their behalf; only a legally appointed Lasting Power of Attorney for health and wellbeing has that right. If this is something you wish to do, it is possible to complete the necessary forms to appoint a Power of Attorney without the help of a solicitor, either for health and welfare matters or for property and financial matters. You must have capacity and the process can often take up to 12 weeks. Click here for more information or contact the Office of the Public Guardian on 0300 456 0300. What happens to the Advance Care Plan once it is complete? The document belongs to you and you are free to change anything in it if you wish to reflect your changing circumstances or health care needs. It will only be acted on if you have lost capacity and the ability to communicate – up to that point you continue to say what you would like, regardless of what is written in your Advance Care Plan. Keep your advance care plan somewhere easily accessible, in case it is ever needed in an emergency situation. Share the contents of your Advance Care Plan with the people closest to you, including carers and ensure they understand that it is a record of your wishes and preferences, in case you are ever incapacitated and unable to speak up for yourself. Act now! Download the booklet Pick up a paper version in person at Mountbatten Ventnor shop or the John Cheverton Centre at Mountbatten Hospice. Alternatively a booklet can be sent to you: please phone 01983 529511 to request your copy.