Paralympian Helene Raynsford has brought to light the distress caused when DNR (do not resuscitate) decisions and discussions are not made appropriately (Paralympian Helene Raynsford was asked to sign the “do not resuscitate” form, 22 of November). This is symptomatic of long-standing problems with communication around DNRs, which have been exacerbated during the pandemic. Basing these decisions on assumptions about someone’s disability or age is not only unacceptable, but also illegal. Doing so can have a catastrophic impact on people’s trust in the healthcare system and may result in them being denied adequate life-saving treatment.
Making assumptions based on disability or age also undermines the essential role DNR decisions play in end-of-life care. When made and communicated correctly, these decisions protect patients from invasive and often unhelpful treatment that can do more harm than good. They can also open up important conversations about someone’s end-of-life wishes.
It’s a decision many people want to make proactively: the proportion of calls Compassion in Dying received on this topic more than doubled in 2020, with the vast majority seeking support in refusing CPR and other life-sustaining treatment in case of emergency. make them seriously ill. .
As Helene has said, people need to be in the driver’s seat of their care. DNR discussions should always involve the person or those close to them, and be based on their circumstances and wishes. Helene’s experience should act as a warning that there is much more work to be done to ensure this is a reality for all.
Director of Partnerships and Services, Compassion in Dying