Managing your care if you have not planned ahead

Best interests decisions

You may worry about becoming seriously ill and being unable to make decisions for yourself. If this happens and you have not planned ahead, other people will need to make decisions for you.

Sometimes a decision may need to be made about your medical care or treatment. No one has the legal authority to consent to medical care or treatment on your behalf. In this situation, a senior healthcare professional will make the decision based on their experience and understanding of your circumstances. They will 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 healthcare professional should consider when making a best interests decision. These include:

  • all the relevant facts
  • your past and present wishes, and values and beliefs
  • 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 makes sure 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.

The views of your family and friends will be taken into consideration in any best interests decision. But the final responsibility for the decision remains with the decision maker. Sometimes this means the views of family members are not followed. In this situation, the healthcare professional should explain to the family the law about best interests decisions and the reason for the decision.

Back to Advance care planning in Northern Ireland

Planning ahead

Planning ahead can help people know what care you would like if you become unable to make choices yourself.

Making a will

Having an up-to-date will ensures that your wishes for who you would like to leave your estate to are guaranteed.

Your wishes for your care

When planning ahead, it is important to think about how and where you would like to be cared for.

Enduring Power of Attorney

An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) allows you to choose other people to make decisions on your behalf.

Funeral planning

Planning your funeral in advance means your family and friends can arrange the type of funeral you would like.