Macclesfield law firm SAS Daniels LLP is supporting a national campaign from Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), as it warns of a looming incapacity crisis. According to a new report, local residents are amongst those found to be leaving medical and care preferences to chance.
The study found 96% of people in the North West have not made necessary provisions, should they lose capacity from conditions like dementia. A further 40% admit to having made no provisions at all for later life, including a Will, pension, funeral plan or a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
A staggering 67% of people in the North West incorrectly believe that their next of kin can specify what healthcare treatment they would have wanted if they are no longer able to make this decision for themselves and 66% incorrectly believe their spouse has the power to do so.
73% of the people in the North West would like a family member to make medical and care decisions on their behalf in the event of mental incapacity, but this is not automatically the case. These decisions are out of a loved ones’ hands if a registered Health and Welfare LPA is not in place.
Justine Clowes, Head of the Wills, Trusts and Probate team at SAS Daniels LLP and former Chair of Solicitors for the Elderly, said: “This latest report from SFE brings to light that not enough people in the North West are putting adequate measures in place for their future. A Lasting Power of Attorney is a powerful document that we should all have for ourselves, like a Will. We need to be aware of the importance of putting one in place for each of us, which will provide peace of mind for our families. Otherwise, we risk being victim to this incapacity crisis forecasted by SFE.”
The report from SFE and the independent think tank, ‘Centre for Future Studies’, looks at the ever-increasing number of people living with dementia which, combined with the failure to plan ahead for mental incapacity, exposes a looming crisis.
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.
The report reveals that 58% of people believe that being on the NHS organ donor register ensures that organs are donated following death, however this is not the case. It is crucial for people to discuss organ donation preferences with family and friends, as they are the ones that must make the final decisions in the situation.
There are currently 928,000 Health and Welfare LPAs registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) across England and Wales, compared to the 12.8 million people over the age of 65 who run the risk of developing dementia – a difference of nearly 93%.
The forecast shows the disparity will continue, leaving millions in limbo. By 2025, it’s calculated that 15.2 million people will be at risk of mental incapacity and it’s estimated that 2.2 million Health and Welfare LPAs will be in place. This shows that the health and welfare wishes of 13 million people will not be taken into account.
Only 4% of people in the North West surveyed by SFE have a Health and Welfare LPA in place.
Lakshmi Turner, Chief Executive of SFE, said: “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. Whilst 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.”