The worrying use of do-not-resuscitate orders is sadly nothing new
The CQC’s review into the application of Do-Not-Attempt-Resuscitate (DNAR) orders during the Covid-19 pandemic reveals incorrect and ageist use. As a lawyer specialising in supporting older and vulnerable people in Shropshire, I know that sadly, this is nothing new.
It’s horrifying to think about DNAR orders being applied to groups of vulnerable people. This isn’t how they should be used and however stretched our health and care services are, this kind of disregard for older people cannot be tolerated.
Best practice guidelines have been set out by the Resuscitation Council UK, but they aren’t being followed everywhere. Clinicians need to do better here, too often it’s ignored or treated as a tick box exercise rather than prompting meaningful consultation with patients and loved ones.
There is clearly a need for all of us to initiate our own conversations about whether we’d want CPR, and also about our wider care wishes. Once we’re in an emergency situation it’s often too late.
Worryingly, only 59% of those aged 70+ have talked to loved ones about their care wishes. And whilst 81% of us think planning ahead for later life is important, only 22% of us have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, setting out our wishes in writing in a legally binding way.
As a country, we must start talking about our wishes should we lose mental and/or physical capacity or require emergency medical treatment. This recent investigation into the use of DNARs must encourage us all to have those difficult, but vital conversations, no matter our age.
Victoria Pugh, Chartered Legal Executive at Hatchers Solicitors, 6/7 Harlescott Lane, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY1 3AH, and member of SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly), the membership organisation for specialist solicitors who support older and vulnerable people. For more information please email email@example.com or call 01743 237668.
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