End of life care: jotting down your wishes won’t do it
Last month, the B.C. Court of Appeal released its reasons for judgement in the important case Bentley v. Maplewood Seniors Care Society.
The significance of the case, in my opinion, lies in the way the Court considered that Ms. Bentley, a resident of the Maplewood care facility since 2009, had written her healthcare wishes on paper.
What Ms. Bentley did not do was make a Representation Agreement. Such an agreement, made with legal advice and meeting the legal requirements of the Representation Agreement Act, probably would have made the Court’s decision easier to reach.
Nonetheless, her family knew that she did not want to be kept alive by artificial or “heroic” means. They felt that she no longer had the capacity to decide to take food (even though, when staff brought a glass or spoon to her mouth, she tended to open her mouth to accept food), and the Court did not feel staff should have to watch or supervise a patient starving to death.
Ms. Bentley is now being kept alive, against her family’s wishes and possibly against her own wishes.
The case seems to say, in part, that careful planning, including making a Representation Agreement, will help the formidable decision-making process when a person is later afflicted.
This ad ran in the Richmond Review on March 13, 2015.