Sensitivity on ‘do not resuscitate’ decisions is vital | Health

Paralympian Helen Rainsford has highlighted the distress that occurs when DNR decisions and conversations are not made appropriately (Paralympian Helen Rainsford was asked to sign a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ form, November 22). This is symptomatic of longstanding issues 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, it’s also illegal. Doing so can have a disastrous effect on people’s trust in the health care system, and can result in them being denied appropriate life-saving treatment.

Making assumptions based on disability or age also undermines the essential role that decisions about infertility play in end-of-life care. When these decisions are made and communicated properly, they protect patients from invasive and often ineffective treatment that can do more harm than good. They can also open up important conversations about someone’s end-of-life wishes.

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It’s a decision many people want to make proactively – calls to Compassion in Dying about this issue more than doubled in 2020, with the vast majority seeking support to refuse CPR and other life-sustaining treatments in If they are exposed to a serious illness.

As Helen said, individuals need to be in the driver’s seat of their care. DNR conversations should always involve the individual or those close to them, and be based on their circumstances and desires. Helen’s experience should serve as a warning that there is a lot of work to be done to ensure this is a reality for everyone.
Usha is sad
Director of Partnerships and Services, Compassion in Death


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