You may have seen the third (and last) series of the excellent BBC drama The Split. In this season the subject of assisted dying is covered, and the use of advanced directives.
They even include a meeting with a Private Client solicitor to go through the legal implications, which, in a programme dominated by divorce lawyers, was quite a surprise. This is covered in episode 6 which is due to air on BBC1 tonight (9 May).
Victoria Mahon de Palacios, partner at Wedlake Bell, comments:
“The final episode of The Split series airs on BBC1 tonight and addresses the difficult issue of terminal illness and advance care planning. One of the characters, Lenny, who is suffering from motor neurone disease, is advised by her divorce lawyer to put an Advance Decision (also known as a ‘Living Will’) in place and is introduced to a private client solicitor who can prepare this.
“An Advance Decision is an important document with enables an individual to refuse, in advance, specified medical treatment in specified circumstances in the event that they may lack mental capacity to refuse that treatment when needed in the future. It is a way of making sure that your health care professionals and family know how far you want treatment to go when you cannot make decisions for yourself (for example, if you were to suffer from severe dementia or be in a coma).
“An Advance Decision can be used to refuse any form of treatment, be it that which may cause discomfort or distress and/or that which would be life-sustaining, for example resuscitation, artificial nutrition and hydration or artificial breathing.
“Another option that can be considered is a Lasting Power of Attorney, giving someone else the power to make decisions on your behalf. It is important that professional advice is sought at the earliest opportunity on the options available and what is most appropriate in the circumstances.
“Advance Decisions can become invalid in certain situations; legal advice is therefore paramount to ensure that the circumstances when this can occur are understood and the Advance Decision can be suitably drafted to help ensure that an element of control of your care can be retained should you become unable to communicate your wishes in the future.”