Power of attorney campaign launched

A new campaign is being launched to raise awareness about the importance of having power of attorney granted to a trusted relative or friend.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Glasgow City Council have joined forces with Alzheimer Scotland, Scottish Care and local law firms to highlight the need to ‘Start the Conversation’ with family members on putting a power of attorney in place.

The campaign aims to encourage people to talk to their loved ones about establishing a power of attorney so that if the person takes ill and is unable to make decisions someone can step in.

Having a power of attorney in place really can make a difference and can ensure that people’s wishes are carried out quickly without prolonged legal negotiations.

If a loved one is in hospital and there is no power of attorney this can delay the patient’s discharge and have them remain in hospital longer than necessary.

The campaign includes three TV adverts to be shown at peak view time from Sunday, December 1, featuring the actor/director Johnnie Beattie and his daughter Maureen, and acting/broadcasting brothers Sanjeev and Hardeep Kohli.

There is a dedicated website which provides valuable information and highlights the case of three families and their experiences in putting a Power of Attorney in place. Additionally, the campaign has utilised the power of social media to reach people with a Facebook page and a twitter feed.

Jill Carson, Adult Services Manager, North West Sector, Glasgow City Community Health Partnership, said: “A lot of people don’t know that if they become ill or injured and are unable to make decisions for themselves no-one else can do this for them unless legally they have been given power to do so.

“There is also a misconception that Powers of Attorney are for the wealthy or elderly but anyone over the age of 16 can grant a Power of Attorney as accidents or illness can happen at any time.

“A Power of Attorney is not just about looking after someone’s financial affairs. It also allows for welfare issues to be decided if someone is unable to make a decision about medical treatment or about where to live. This can be the biggest problem facing someone in hospital. For example, if no-one is appointed to act in the patient’s best interests, then a legal process is required before the patient can be discharged to an appropriate setting such as a care home.

“In the past 12 months, 93 patients in Glasgow City hospitals have spent a total of 12,149 days in hospital unnecessarily whilst waiting for the legal process required to appoint someone to take decisions for them, because they did not give Power of Attorney to anyone in advance. On average those 93 people each spent over four months staying in hospital when they no longer required medical treatment. That is not good for the patients – who would enjoy a much better quality of life in a more homely setting – and not good use of hospital resources.

“We are delighted that this campaign has been funded through the Glasgow City Change Fund as part of the Reshaping Care for Older People strategy, which includes funding for initiatives that help ensure older people are supported to stay in their own homes or a homely setting where possible.”