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Living Wills



goldenpondLiving wills/advance directives set out the kind of medical treatment you would like to receive or not receive should you ever be in a condition that prevents you from expressing those wishes at some time in the future.

They are becoming popular in Britain and around the world.  You can say in advance what you would like to happen. We believe such directives should be the norm, not the exception, as they are invaluable in easing the anxiety and guilt involved in vital decisions which must be taken by others (e.g. doctors and relatives) when you become too ill to express your own wishes.

The BMA supports living wills/advance directives and suggests that patients lodge one copy with their doctor. From raising this matter with local health professionals we know that Manx doctors would also value the clear prior instruction from patients such a document can bring when planning end of life care, be it in connection with a long term terminal illness or in the swift medical decision-making which may be necessary after an accident or natural disaster.

will_small Manx hospitals do not yet ask on admission if a patient has made such a directive but they are now considering adding a question to admission forms and making arrangements to hold copies of living wills/advance directives with patient details.

The Freethinkers contributed to an exciting project to introduce the concept of Living Wills to people in both the North and South of Ireland.

The focus of the campaign was an extensive report by the Irish Council of Bioethics entitled ‘Is It Time For Advance Healthcare Directives’ (see www.bioethics.ie for further details), which gathered the views of Irish people of all backgrounds and put forward recommendations to the Dail. Our friends in Humani (Humanist Association of Northern Ireland), Belfast Humanist group and Humanist Association of Ireland were then instrumental in the formation of the Living Wills Trust and Manx residents were amongst those who gave responses to a model Living Will drawn up by the LWT which enabled this to be ‘fine tuned’.

The LWT admirably takes the view that no-one should have to pay for the security an advance directive/living will brings and thus offers free information including a template of a legally secure Irish Living Will.

As yet, though the Attorney General answered a Tynwald question in 2003 by suggesting Living Wills ought to be generally valid in Manx law, no detailed legal opinion has been given. 

Meanwhile, the Irish model may make a useful template which anyone can then take to a Manx attorney for further advice. You can obtain it at www.livingwillstrust.com.

Alternatively, if you join Dignity in Dying (15) you get a free living will. More information from Dignity in Dying, 13 Prince of Wales Terrace, London, W8 5PG or telephone 071 987 7770.

The Natural Death Centre  offers Advance Decision Forms from their bookshop: http://www.naturaldeath.org.uk/index.php?page=book-shop


Their Natural Death Handbook - now in its 5th edition - covers; inexpensive, environmentally friendly and DIY funerals, 200+ natural burial grounds, bio-degradable and mail order coffins, a Good Funeral Guide to the funeral trade, caring for the dying at home, living wills, advance funeral wishes, et

 5th edition 24 including postage and packing.

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