Solicitors for the Elderly report shows we are leaving medical treatment and care to chance

Tue 31st Jul 2018

Bernadette Polkinghorne of Coodes Solicitors comments on a recent Solicitors for the Elderly report, which shows most of us leave our future medical treatment and care to chance.

A new report from Solicitors for the Elderly and independent think tank, Centre for Future Studies, reveals the UK is leaving medical and care preferences to chance.

The report found 96% of people in the South West do not have a health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). In other words, they have not made necessary provisions, should they lose capacity from conditions like dementia. While I am not surprised to learn that there is such a low take-up of Health and Welfare LPAs, it is a worrying statistic. It is especially troubling as the report also shows that 70% of those in the South West are worried about becoming mentally incapacitated and losing the ability to make decisions for themselves.

What is a health and welfare LPA?

In my recent blog I explained that there are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). Both are powerful legal documents that set out your wishes so that other people can make decisions on your behalf, should you become unable to do so as the result of a condition like dementia or a brain injury.

An LPA for Health and Welfare is a wide-ranging document that focuses on many aspects of your care and medical treatment. This includes setting out your wishes from the clothes you wear, the food you eat and where you live through to your views regarding life sustaining treatment.

Why do I need an LPA for health and welfare?

The report reveals a number of misconceptions about health and care. For example, most people believe a next of kin believe their spouse of next of kin would automatically have the power to make care and medical decisions on their behalf. In fact, if you want to empower a loved one to speak on your behalf, this needs to be set out in a health and welfare LPA. My colleague Louise Southwell explains the importance of a health and welfare LPA here.

If you lose the capacity to make decisions without having a health and welfare LPA, potentially life-changing medical and care decisions are taken away from your loved ones. Do not delay having a conversation about your future medical and care wishes with those closest to you. Without having a Health and Welfare LPA there is a risk your preferences will not be taken into account.

Bernadette Polkinghorne is a Lawyer in Coodes Solicitors’ Wills, Probate and Trusts team. For more information, contact Bernadette on 0800 328 3282 or

Tue 31st Jul 2018

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