What an advance decision cannot do

This page describes the limits to the treatments and situations an advance decision covers.

An advance decision cannot be used to:

  • refuse treatment if you still have the capacity to give or refuse consent
  • refuse basic care that is essential to keep you comfortable, such as washing or bathing
  • refuse food or drink by mouth (although it can be used to refuse feeding by tube)
  • refuse the use of measures designed solely to maintain comfort – for example, painkillers (which relieve pain but do not treat the underlying condition)
  • demand specific treatment
  • refuse treatment for a mental disorder in the event that you are detained under the Mental Health Act 1983
  • request something that is against the law, such as euthanasia or assisting you in taking your own life.

Further reading