Managing your care if you haven't planned ahead in Northern Ireland
If you haven’t planned ahead and something happens that means you’re unable to make decisions yourself, other people will need to make decisions for you.
The web pages in this section are about the ways people can plan ahead if they live in Northern Ireland. We have other information about planning ahead in England and Wales, and in Scotland.
Sometimes a decision may need to be made about your medical care or treatment. No person has the legal authority to provide consent to medical care or treatment on your behalf. So, in this situation, a senior health professional would make the decision based on their experience and understanding of your circumstances. They would discuss the decision with your family, friends and anyone else who might be involved in your care.
These decisions are known as best interests decisions. There are several things a health professional should take into consideration when making a best interests decision. They include:
- all the relevant circumstances
- your past and present wishes and your values and beliefs, if these are known or can be found out
- the views of anyone caring for you, such as a family member, friend or carer.
A best interests decision should not be based on your age, condition, appearance or any aspect of your behaviour.
A best interests decision ensures all the relevant circumstances about your care are taken into account. It also makes sure that the motives of the person making the decision are proper and in your best interests.
While the views of family members and friends will be taken into consideration in any best interests decision, the final responsibility for the decision remains with the decision maker – a senior health professional. Occasionally, this will mean the views of family members are not followed. In this situation, the health professional should explain to the family the law regarding best interests decisions and the reason for the decision.