A Power of Attorney to represent relatives with the Health Service

The recent sad revelations from Gosport illustrate the problems that relatives can have when the Health Service fails the elderly.

In situations where the patient is unable to fully represent themselves, one useful document which may have helped some relatives when they disagree with a course of treatment, is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for Health & Welfare.

It is more common to have setup the version for Property & Finance, than the version for Health & Welfare. Statistics show that for every 3 people with a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for Property & Finance only 1 has the Health & Welfare version.

Yet a Health & Welfare LPA can enable relatives or friends to step in and represent the patient at a time when they are unable to fully represent themselves, often a key time of stress.

Among the many issues that a Health & Welfare LPA can do are:-
• decide the place of residence
• consent to any medical treatment, procedure or therapy of whatever nature for your benefit and provide access for that, or refuse such consent (including ‘do not resuscitate’ orders)
• decide, alone or with others, on the level of care
• make decisions about: clothes, diet and personal appearance
• choose social and cultural activities

The Attorney* can also refuse consent to a Deprivation of Liberty Order requested by a Care home, Hospital, Local Authority or Social Services - unless an Order has been issued by the Court of Protection. This can be a key reason for taking out a Health & Welfare LPA.

In summary, the main reason for having a Health & Welfare LPA is that the Attorney has control and can override Social Services, the Local Authority and other agencies - who can all do some very bizarre things!

If you are in any doubt of the need for a Health & Welfare LPA we do recommend that you search on the internet for the cases of: Betty Figg, Julia Waddingham, Ian & Joan Adams and Minetta Webb.

* An Attorney is the person chosen to act for someone else on an enduring or lasting power of attorney.

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