All about Advance Decisions

Cornwall Hospice Care have been working with Cornwall Young Farmers and Healthwatch Cornwall to raise awareness about the importance of having conversations with family and friends about what might happen in the event that you become unable to make decisions for yourself. This might happen if you were in an accident or had a stroke.

Only 4% of the population have an Advance Decision but 80% of adults have clear ideas about what treatment they may want in this situation. Our project aims to get people talking to each other BEFORE any event where making these decisions becomes essential.

Part of this process involves using the Advance Decision card that will alert paramedics and healthcare professionals to the fact that you have had these conversations and have an Advance Decision.


Simple Steps

Follow these simple steps to put your Advance Decision in place:

  1. Think about what I might want to happen to me in the event of an accident
  2. Follow the link from Cornwall Hospice Care to look at the Advance Decision
  3. Fill in the Advance Decision
  4. Print it out
  5. Get it witnessed by someone (this can be anyone)
  6. Talk through my decisions with family and friends and add their names to my decision document
  7. Tell everyone where I am going to keep the document
  8. Review it every couple of years to make sure I am happy with it
  9. Email to request your Advance Decision card
  10. Fill in the Advance Decision card and put the snap off portion on my keys

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Advance Decision?

An Advance Decision allows you to write down any medical treatments that you do not want to have in the future, in case you later become unable to make or communicate decisions for yourself. It will only be used if you cannot make or communicate a decision for yourself.

The legal name is an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment, and it is also sometimes called a Living Will or an Advance Directive.

What can I refuse in an Advance Decision?

You can use an Advance Decision to refuse any medical treatment including life-sustaining treatment, such as:

  • cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops
  • being put on a ventilator if you cannot breathe on your own
  • being given food or fluids artificially, for example through a drip, a tube through the nose or through a tube directly into the stomach
  • antibiotics for a life-threatening infection

What can I not use an Advance Decision for?

You cannot use an Advance Decision to:

  • ask for something illegal, such as assistance to end your life
  • refuse to be offered food and drink by mouth or to refuse care that keeps you clean and comfortable.  This is because these things are part of basic care, which healthcare professionals have a duty to provide
  • choose someone else to decide about treatment on your behalf.  Choosing another person to make decisions about your health and care is done by making a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare
  • demand certain treatments – this is because doctors do not have to give you treatment just because you ask for it.  Doctors decide whether treatment is medically appropriate for your condition and then you decide whether or not you want that treatment

Why would I want to make an Advance Decision?

If there are treatments that you would not want to have in the future then making an Advance Decision will help to make sure your wishes are followed.

Making an Advance Decision can:

  • Help you to make informed decisions in your own time by considering your options
  • Give you control over the care and treatment you receive, whether that is tomorrow or further in the future
  • Give you peace of mind that you have taken steps to make sure your wishes are known about, recorded and respected

The process of making an Advance Decision can help to initiate conversations between you and those close to you about your wishes for future treatment and care.

What happens if I don’t have an Advance Decision in place?

If you cannot make a decision about your medical treatment, and you have not made an Advance Decision or a Lasting Power of Attorney, then your doctor will decide what treatment to give you.  They will base their decision on what they think is in your ‘best interests’, and they must take into account the views of your family members or others close to you.  However, legally, they do not have to follow what the people close to you say.  This means that if you have not made an Advance Decision or Lasting Power of Attorney, the doctor has the final say about what treatments you receive.

How do I request an Advance Decision Card?

To organise an Advance Decision card please email and we will send one to you.

In the coming months we will be organising distribution of the cards to outlets near you, including Cornwall Hospice Care shops.  We can also provide interested groups with cards.

Can we arrange a speaker to come and tell our group/club/staff about this campaign?

Yes, we’d love to come and spread the word about this campaign. All you need to do is call 01726 839156 and ask for Tamsin Thomas or email us at

Other Ideas - Message in a bottle

The Lions Clubs Message In a Bottle scheme is a simple idea designed to encourage people to keep their personal and medical details on a standard form and in a common location – the fridge.

The bottle is kept in the fridge, where the emergency services will be able to find it in the event of being called to your home.  We will know you have a bottle by the two labels displayed on the inside of the front door or on the main entrance to your home and the other is for the door of your fridge.

This scheme is free to the user.  Whilst it is focused on the more vulnerable people in our community, anyone can fall downstairs, so this scheme can benefit anyone, including you.

As a minimum it will save the Emergency Services valuable time identifying you and your emergency contacts.  By telling whether you have special medication, allergies or an Advance Decision, it is a potential lifesaver and provides peace of mind to users and their friends and families.

Ready to make your Advance Decision?