The importance of the Health and Welfare Lasting of Power of Attorney has been highlighted recently with the Covid-19 vaccination.
Many of the elderly and vulnerable members of society have already received their first vaccination. If you or a family member have not taken up your vaccination appointment then what can and what can’t you do to assist them?
It is generally believed that a person’s next of kin can make healthcare decisions on their behalf should they become unable to make their own, but that is unfortunately not always the case. For anyone to make formal decisions about another adult’s health, they should have a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) or relevant Court Order such as a Deputyship Order.
If you only hold a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Finance then you will not be able to support your relative.
Legally the Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney only becomes ‘activated’ when a person loses mental capacity. The Mental Capacity Act aims to protect and empower people who lack capacity to make their own decisions.
As far as possible an individual should be encouraged and supported to make their own decision regarding the vaccination. However, if that person is incapacitated then as their Attorney then you will have to choose whether they should have the vaccination.
As an Attorney, as well as acting in the donor’s best interests you should also take also take into account the donor’s wishes. For example, if your relative has always refused vaccinations throughout their life then you should take this into account when making a decision about their vaccination. It is the view of the person whom you are supporting, that is relevant; not your personal opinion.
If there is no LPA in place then a decision about what to do will fall to health and social care officials. The Court of Protection made its first ruling on this very recently, deciding that vaccination was in a women’s best interests because it would dramatically reduce her risk of death. The objection to the vaccine came from her son as he was “deeply sceptical about the efficacy of the vaccine” and was not certain that “his mother’s true wishes had been canvassed.” Video evidence was obtained from GP records confirming that the mother would generally follow recommended medical advice on vaccinations.
Having an LPA in place allows you to decide who has the control over your health and welfare decisions, should you not be able to make them yourself in future. For further information please contact Vanessa Ruparel a Private Client Solicitor at Barrett & Co in Reading who can assist.
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Vanessa Ruparel offers a fixed fee initial meeting of one hour to discuss your personal circumstances, your options and your next steps, at a cost of £95 (inc VAT).
Vanessa will meet you in our Reading Berkshire office, alternatively meetings can occur by telephone. If you would like to meet with Vanessa please telephone the office so that an appointment can be arranged.
Vanessa is a Solicitor specialising in Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and the administration of estates.