THANK you for featuring Francis Mason-Hornby’s article on planning for your death (Podium, July 18, 'It's never too early to plan for your death').

It is hugely important that people feel supported and empowered to consider their wishes for the end of their life, their death and the aftermath.

I noticed, however, that the article implies one can make an Advance Decision in order to let others know their wishes around donating organ or tissue to science.

In actual fact, an Advance Decision (formerly known as a Living Will), is a legally-binding document that allows you to state in what circumstances you would want to refuse life-sustaining treatment if you become seriously unwell and unable to communicate your wishes.

This can be created for free, without the need for a solicitor – we have a free website and an info line should people need more support, on 0800-9992434.

I note that in the following paragraph it does suggest people consider the care they want at the end of life, including life-prolonging treatment, but it doesn’t mention explicitly any ways to record this.

I am writing to you from Compassion in Dying, a national charity that supports people to plan for the end of life – the part before we die – and record their wishes for care and treatment should a time come when they can’t tell others what they want.

People think nothing of making a will or appointing a Power of Attorney to look after their finances, but when it comes to their health and treatment very few people put their wishes in writing – just four per cent. This is despite 80 per cent of us having strong feelings about the care and treatment we do or don’t want at the end of life.

People can record their wishes in an Advance Decision, an Advance Statement (which allows you to state other values and preferences that are important to you, such as where you’d like to be cared for, religious beliefs, whether you like to be able to listen to music or sit in a garden, etc), and/or a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare (which allows you to appoint a trusted person/s to make decisions about your care and treatment on your behalf should you lose the ability yourself).

When people record their wishes in a legally-binding way, it not only helps to ensure they get the treatment that’s right for them at the end of life, but they also get peace of mind in the present. It also helps to avoid unnecessary and unwanted hospital admissions and improves access to palliative care.

Ellie Ball

Media and campaigns officer

Compassion in Dying