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15 Feb 2019

Here's why you should plan for your end of life care

We explore the importance of planning for your end of life care - and how to do this - in light of our new research

Most people (71%) haven't planned for end of life care, according to new Which? Later Life Care research.

We've also uncovered a concerning lack of awareness of options for this care. Only 31% of people, for instance, correctly believed that hospice care is free for all.

Which? Later Life Care surveyed 3,121 people to understand the arrangements they have for their own end of life care, or that of a loved one, between 3 and 14 January 2019.

Care options at the end of life - discover what end of life care is, the different forms it can take, how to pay for it and more.

Why should I plan ahead for my end of life care?

Which? Later Life Care is urging people to plan ahead for their end of life care. Quite simply, it helps you stay in control of your future care and treatment, and can benefit your family, friends and carers.

Alex Hayman, Which? managing director of public markets, advises: 'Although it can be uncomfortable to think about, by taking the time to consider your plans for the end of your life, you can help ensure that when it comes, your loved ones will be able to respect your wishes and preferences.

'There are a number of different options available for arranging end of life care, and it's important to understand what they all entail and how they might differ. Do your research and explore your options to help find out which are best suited to you.'

How to make end of life care plans

You might start by talking to close relatives and/or friends. If you're unable to do this, or feel uncomfortable about talking to someone close to you, you can also talk to a doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional.

And even if you do speak to close relatives or friends first, for some aspects of end of life care planning - such as when making an advance decision (more popularly known as a living will, see below) - it's important to talk to a healthcare professional for more detailed information.

Improving care of those approaching the end of their life is increasingly important in the world of health. The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) and Marie Curie have recently launched a scheme called Daffodil Standards to encourage GPs and practice staff to identify those at the end of life or with a life-limiting disease, and find out what they want.

GP surgeries displaying a daffodil sign are showing commitment to the new scheme.

Once you've talked through the options and made sense of your preferences, the next step is documenting these wishes.

How to record your end of life care plans

Putting your wishes in writing makes it easier to share the information with everyone involved in your care. Make sure that people have copies of these documents, or that they know where they are.

Below, we give quick summaries of the different ways you can record your plans. Click on the links to read full advice on each of them from Which? Later Life Care and Which? Money.

  • Advance statement: This is a general statement about your care wishes. It can include any information that's important to you, such as who should be consulted about your care. It isn't legally binding.
  • Advance decision (or living will): A legally binding way to tell people about specific medical treatments that you don't want to receive in the future. It will be used if you're unable to make or communicate decisions for yourself. In Scotland, it's known as an advance directive.
  • Funeral plans: These can be part of an advance statement, or in a separate document.
  • Will: If you don't make a will, it may mean that your possessions and money are not passed on to the people you would like to receive them.
  • Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA): This lets you give someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf, in case a time comes when you can no longer make decisions or communicate them for yourself.

Which? Later Life Care - free, independent and practical guidance about making choices for older people across the UK.