The nursing staff may or may not mention that they are going to hold a meeting. If they do, ask to attend the meeting and ensure that you do attend.
Alternatively, if you feel concerned , you should ask the nursing staff if they are planning to have a meeting about your loved one. If this is the case, you should ask to attend and ensure that you do attend.
- Don’t go alone. Take someone who supports your point of view about your loved one. Preferably someone who is not afraid to speak up and won’t be put off if there everyone else says something different. If possible take someone with medical knowledge.
- Don’t be fooled by the title, you have to decide what is in your loved one’s best interest and persuade the group of this. Don’t worry about being difficult, and don’t ever think that those in authority know better than you about what you think is best for your loved one.
- Often these meetings are called because the staff want to establish a consensus to start an “end of life” pathway on your loved one. This means shortening life at best, dehydration sedation and early death. Effectively euthanasia. They can be called for other reasons, so make sure you know what the agenda is beforehand.
- The group can be made up of anyone who has cared for your relative, no matter for how short a time. According to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 as a relative or close loved one, you do not have any preferential say on the outcome. This anomalous situation was changed by Baroness Hale in the Supreme Court (1). Lady Hale set out a clear imperative for participation and consultation with patients and their families in making sensitive decisions about their future healthcare. As a relative therefore it is now effective case law that you be listened to and what you say accepted.
- Do not accept that your relative is effectively “dying” and all care is futile, so an end of life pathway is the best option. Ask for evidence for every statement that is made. Ask to go away and discuss with someone else and meet up again if necessary.
(1) Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Respondent) v James (AP) (Appellant) on 30 October 2013.