A worrying 97 percent of people living in the South East of the UK are leaving important health and welfare decisions to chance, giving them no control over later life decisions, a mental capacity specialist at law firm Cripps has warned.
Stephen Horscroft, managing associate and a specialist in eldercare law, is urging people across the South East to plan for the future in case of mental incapacity.
This follows a report released by SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) and independent think tank, Centre for Future Studies which found that 97 percent of people in the South East had not made necessary provisions should they lose capacity from conditions like dementia.
A further 36 percent surveyed admitted to having not made any provisions at all for later life, including a will, pension, funeral plan or LPA.
In response, a coalition of organisations, led by SFE – the specialist organisation that connects older and vulnerable clients with legal experts in older client law – are joining forces to encourage people to tackle the taboos around end of life planning, in order to prevent an incapacity crisis.
Mr Horscroft commented: “This report has highlighted some worrying misconceptions. It’s particularly concerning to see only three percent of people in the South East have a health and welfare Lasting Power of Attorney in place. While 71 percent of those surveyed said they would like a family member to make medical and care decisions on their behalf, without a Lasting Power of Attorney these decisions will be made by doctors and social services.
"While the decision maker will have to take the views of family members into account, a Lasting Power of Attorney is the only way to ensure that your loved ones are able to make decisions.
“It is crucial to have a conversation with loved ones in order to make specific medical and care wishes known – such as, where you are cared for, whether you wish to be an organ donor and whether or not you would want to be resuscitated – otherwise there is a risk your preferences are not taken into account. Along with the SFE, we are calling for the region to act now to avoid this incapacity crisis by planning ahead.”
Lakshmi Turner, chief executive of SFE, added: “Most of us do not like thinking about, let alone talking about, death, disability or disease, despite the fact that it touches all our lives – but it is essential that we do so.
“While it’s great that more and more of us are putting wills in place and establishing plans for finances and assets, far too few of us are planning ahead for our health and care needs and wishes, leaving this to chance.
“It’s time to set the record straight. Planning ahead by talking to family or friends shouldn’t be seen as doom and gloom, it’s about having a positive conversation about welfare, empowering your loved ones and making the decision-making process easier for everyone.”
Cripps has offices in Tunbridge Wells, London and Kings Hill.
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