Journal of Medical Law and Ethics (JMLE)

Effective End-of-Life Care Planning in Scotland: Culture and Law

Dr Sarah Christie

In the context of an ageing population, end-of-life care planning is increasingly important. The law in Scotland does not, as yet, take the active and specific steps to help address this that are evident in other jurisdictions. I contend that there are two particular issues which need to be addressed here. The first is to normalise the idea of a discussion about dying. This is important in order to allow individuals to feel entitled to discuss and plan for it by way of an advance directive, to feel that it is a valuable exercise, and to feel reassured that their plans will not falter if they lose capacity. The second is to formulate an approach which prompts and encourages that discussion, but also promotes autonomous decision-making. I assert that the law can, and should help with both of these by providing a legislative basis for advance directives in order to set out the requirements for formal validity, and by making provision for an allied, non-mandatory pro-forma to guide and assist those who wish to use it.

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