Coronavirus (COVID-19) has prompted many of us to consider what treatment and care we would want when facing the end of our lives. Friends at the End has long campaigned for greater patient choice, but in the midst of a pandemic, difficult decisions are having to be made by healthcare providers.
This week there have been reports of some GP surgeries suggesting the routine and automatic completing of DNACPR by vulnerable people in their care. Thankfully, this has been robustly challenged by the Chief Medical Officer and others.
Furthermore, updated ethical guidance has been issued by the government and medical bodies which highlights that decisions at present are not based on patient choice and best interests but distributive justice instead, in an effort to allocate resources appropriately. This is understandable given the difficulties COVID-19 presents, but there are concerns about what the needs of the majority means for the care of the vulnerable minority.
Some of us have already had loved ones die or have relatives and friends in hospital. For frail and older people, contracting COVID-19 might mean a traumatic transfer to the acute setting. If you do not want this and would feel better supported at home, it is imperative that you write this down and share it widely. The best way to do this is by completing an advance directive/decision and giving copies to your family, friends and doctor.
Likewise, there has been no indication that prioritisation will be based on age alone, so if you are in good health and would like to receive all the treatment available, you should document this also. The best way to do this is by writing an advance statement of your wishes and sharing this as widely as possible.
Friends at the End have people on hand to send you advance directive etc. forms and to help you complete the process. You can also find information about documenting your wishes on our website. As always, get in touch if you would like any help or support.
Lastly, for those of us staying at home this week (yes all of us!) Luminate have uploaded a collection of recordings, designed to inspire and guide you through a creative activity that can be done at home. The activities are presented by professional artists and feature different art forms including crafts, poetry, music and dance. You can access the free content here: https://www.luminatescotland.org/luminateathome