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LPA - 'Health and Welfare'

The Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare gives appointed attorneys the authority to make decisions on issues relating to the health and personal welfare of the 'donor' - the person giving the power - but only when the donor is without mental capacity and unable to make these decisions for themself.

A donor is free to choose a different attorney or attorneys for their 'Health and Welfare' LPA as against their 'Property' LPA should they wish to. Generally, however, the vast majority of donors appoint the same trusted family members or friends to act for them across the whole spectrum of their affairs and so name the same people in both LPA forms. 

What can a Health and Welfare attorney do?

This depends on the extent of the powers that the donor gives their attorney in their Health and Welfare LPA. Subject to any restrictions, the following significant choices could all be taken by the attorney:

1. Deciding where the donor's permanent residence should be;

2. Deciding what care and accommodation may be appropriate;

3. Consenting to any medical treatment, procedure or therapy for the donor's benefit and providing access for it, OR refusing consent for such treatment or procedures;

4. Deciding on the level of care a donor requires;

5. Making decisions about the donor's dress, diet and personal appearance;

6. Choosing social and cultural activities for the donor.

If a donor gives their attorney(s) the power to make health and welfare decisions without any restrictions or conditions then they will be able to give or refuse consent to medical treatment, such as for an operation, a course of treatment or procedure. They will also be able to make decisions about dental or optical care and even whether the donor can take part in particular types of research projects.

It's important to remember that medical treatment is ultimately a clinical decision and that an attorney cannot demand treatment which doctors do not believe is necessary or clinically worthwhile.

Life-Sustaining Treatment Decisions

The Health and Welfare LPA form requires that the donor makes a 'Yes' or 'No' declaration as to whether they consent to their attorney(s) having the power to make life-sustaining treatment decisions on their behalf. If the donor does not give their attorney(s) their consent then these decisions will be made solely by relevant doctors and other health professionals instead (subject to any valid and applicable Advance Decision or 'Living Will').

What is Life-Sustaining Treatment? Broadly, life-sustaining treatment means any treatment that a doctor considers necessary to sustain a donor's life, in the short term or longer term, and this will depend on the circumstances of a particular situation. Examples might include a serious surgical operation such as a heart by-pass, chemotherapy or radiotherapy to treat cancer, or an organ transplant.

But life-sustaining treatment may also include more day-to-day procedures or treatments. For example, a course of antibiotics to eliminate an infection. If left unchecked, the infection could cause the donor to suffer serious illness and a dangerously impaired immune system.