"Advance Directive" is a Scottish term, but in other parts of the UK these documents are also called Advance Decisions or Living Wills.
An Advance Directive is a recorded statement that allows you to make a refusal of treatment or indicate your choice in advance of a time when you can’t communicate your wishes, or don’t have the mental capacity to make a decision. It only comes into effect if either of these situations occur.
Although Advance Directives are not legally binding, health and care professionals should take them into account when deciding how to treat you.
Family and friends can also use them as evidence of your wishes.
What can an Advance Directive not do?
You cannot use an Advance Directive to:
- ask for your life to be ended
- refuse basic care that attends to your comfort, pain and/or personal hygiene, or
- demand certain treatments that may not be considered medically appropriate.
If an Advance Directive is something you would like to consider, you are advised to discuss this with your doctor or other health or care professionals who are aware of your medical history.