A nationwide end-of-life rights outreach service, My Life, My Decision, launches today (Thursday 27th November) in London with Care Minister the Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, Baroness Greengross OBE and Justice Minister the Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP.
My Life, My Decision will empower older people across the country to make informed decisions about their treatment and care at the end of life by giving them information on their choices and the opportunity to discuss their wishes. Volunteers and healthcare professionals will be trained to support people in how they can plan ahead for the end of life, including by making an Advance Decision setting out their medical treatment wishes, or by appointing a trusted person to make health and welfare decisions for them using Lasting Powers of Attorney. My Life, My Decision is run by Compassion in Dying in partnership with local branches of Age UK.
Minister for Care and Support Norman Lamb said:
“Decisions about end-of-life care can be heart-wrenching for patients and families so I welcome the commitment of Compassion in Dying to support people with these difficult decisions. We want to make sure people nearing the end of their lives get good quality care tailored to their individual needs – earlier this year we launched our priorities for the care of the dying which made clear people should get care that is focused on their needs and preferences.”
Justice and Civil Liberties Minister Simon Hughes said:
“Lasting Powers of Attorney are as important as having a will and everybody should consider making one. Lasting Powers of Attorney give people the peace of mind of knowing that if they ever lose capacity, the important decisions about their life can be taken by someone they have chosen and can trust. Projects like this are crucial in making people aware of the important choices they can make to prepare for the end of life.”
Davina Hehir, Director of Legal Strategy, Policy and Services at Compassion in Dying, said:
“People want to be in control of their own end-of-life decision making, but this cannot happen without the right information and support. We know that 82% of people have strong preferences on what treatment they would or would not want to receive at the end of life, but only 4% of people have made an Advance Decision or Lasting Power of Attorney to ensure their wishes will be known about and respected. My Life, My Decision will empower people to plan ahead for the end of life to ensure that, as far as possible, they can expect to die well.”
After a successful pilot in East London, the Big Lottery Fund committed a further £1 million so that the outreach service can be rolled out across England. My Life, My Decision has already demonstrated a need for a service which combines information for the public as well as training for professionals on how to support individuals in their end-of-life decision making. It will continue in East London as well as start work in Hillingdon, Lancashire, South Tyneside, South Lakeland, Oxfordshire and Trafford, in partnership with local Age UKs.
The launch event will be held in partnership with the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) and chaired by Baroness Sally Greengross OBE.
Baroness Greengross said:
“Given that death is going to happen to all of us, it is astonishing that it remains such a taboo subject. Now is the time for this to change. We must talk about dying and better plan for our end of life. Access to advice is vital.”
The launch event will review findings from the East London pilot of My Life, My Decision and the recommendations of the House of Lords Mental Capacity Act 2005 Select Committee, to develop conversations amongst end-of-life care stakeholders, including emphasising the importance of healthcare professionals actively informing individuals about Advance Decisions and supporting their decisions.