Making decisions, power of attorney and making a will… all can be an important for carers and the cared for.

Making decisions

You may care for someone who’s unable to make some or all decisions or may not be able to do so in the future. This could be because of a brain injury or stroke, dementia, learning disability, mental health problems, alcohol or drug misuse, the side effects of medical treatment or any other illness or disability. The person you care for may lack ability to make decisions about money, health and other matters, such as the care they receive. You may need to help them to make those decisions or you may have to take action or make decisions on their behalf.

Anyone can assess mental capacity. Relatives and carers are best to judge whether or not someone has the capacity to make day-to-day decisions. For more complex decisions, professionals can formally assess capacity. Further information about mental capacity can be found on the Dorset Council website.

If the person you care for is at the end of their life and the expectation is that their condition will deteriorate and they may lose capacity to make decisions about their care, they should be offered Advance Care Planning.

Advanced Care Planning is a process used by all professionals who work with people at the end of their life, to help them understand their illness, and make decisions about, and prepare for, the end of life.

Through Advance Care Planning, the person you care for can make an advance statement (living will) or decision about the treatment they wish or do not wish to receive. For more information about Advance Care Planning contact Compassion in Dying on 0800 999 2434.

Lasting Power of Attorney

If the person you care for still has the capacity to make decisions, but they may lose this (perhaps because of dementia) then they can grant someone Lasting Power of Attorney to allow them to make decisions on their behalf. Further information can be found at www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney

Making a will

You and the person you care for should think about making a will. Your will lets you decide what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death. If you make a will you can also make sure you don’t pay more Inheritance Tax than you need to. You can write your will yourself, but you should get advice if your will isn’t straightforward. You need to get your will formally witnessed and signed to make it legally valid. Further information can be found here. Citizens Advice may also be able to advise you on 03444 111 444.