What is an Advance Statement?

An Advance Statement allows you to record your wishes, feelings, beliefs and values. You can include anything that is important to you in relation to your health and wellbeing, for example your food preferences, religious or spiritual views, your daily routine, where you would like to be cared for (for instance, at home, in a hospice, in hospital or in a residential home). It is also helpful to include information about the things that are important to your quality of life, for example hobbies, pastimes or spending time with your family.

You can also use it to name anyone you would like to be consulted when decisions are being made on your behalf. However, this does not mean that a healthcare professional has to follow what that person says. The only way to give another person the legal power to make health or care decisions on your behalf is by making a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare.

An Advance Statement is not legally binding. This means that a healthcare professional does not have to follow the instructions that are in it. However, what you write in your Advance Statement is still very important because it must be taken into account when someone is making a decision for you. If someone is making a decision for you, they have to act in your best interests A best interests decision is based on your values, beliefs and preferences. It should be the decision you would make for yourself if you could.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 says the decision-maker must consider:
  • All the relevant information, including the potential benefits or risks of a particular treatment, or any long-term consequences of giving or withholding the treatment such as the impact on your quality of life.
  • Your past and present wishes and feelings, any wishes you have previously expressed, written down, or what you say you want now.
  • Any values and beliefs you have that would be relevant to the decision.
  • The views of your family members, carers and other relevant people.

So, because an Advance Statement is evidence of your wishes, feelings, values and beliefs it must be considered when any action is taken on your behalf.