Advance Statements: recording your wishes

What is an Advance Statement?

An Advance Statement sets out your beliefs, values, preferences and wishes about your future care, health and wellbeing. The statement will let people know about your views, in case you can’t make them known for yourself at some time in the future. You can make an Advance Statement verbally, but it’s better to write it down so that the record of your wishes is permanent and less likely to be questioned in future.

An Advance Statement doesn’t need to be written in any particular way, but should be clear enough for someone else to read and understand. It’s a good idea for the statement to include your full name, address, date of birth, and be signed and dated by you. This will help to make it clear that the statement is a true record of your wishes.

What does an Advance Statement have in it?

An Advance Statement can include any aspect of your health and care, such as:

  • What really matters to you in the way that you are cared for.
  • How your religious or spiritual beliefs might be reflected in the way you are cared for.
  • Where you prefer to be cared for, for example at home, in a care home or hospital.
  • Day to day preferences, for example dietary needs or foods that you really like or don’t like.
  • Activities you like or don’t like to do, for example taking long walks or watching sports.
  • Practical issues like who will look after your pets if you can’t.

Who can make an Advance Statement?

An Advance Statement can only be made by someone who has the mental capacity to make it. An Advance Statement can’t be made on someone else’s behalf. You can change your Advance Statement while you have mental capacity to do so.

For more information on what it means to have mental capacity, please go to our page on the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Is an Advance Statement legally binding?

No, but anyone making decisions about your care must take it into account. The Mental Capacity Act is clear that decision makers must consider “any relevant written statement made by [you] when [you] had capacity”. This means that anyone making a best interests decision for you must use the information in your Advance Statement to help them understand what your wishes, feelings, beliefs and values might be, and what you would have been likely to think was important, if you were able to make the decision yourself.

You can read more about best interests decisions in our MCA pages.

Advance Statements can’t be used to force professionals to give specific treatment, or to give care in a particular way.

How do I make an Advance Statement?

You can write an Advance Statement yourself, or with help from others. If you like, you can include family, friends or professionals working with you when you write your statement. It’s important that the right people know what your wishes are, and know that you have made an Advance Statement.

You can find some useful resources including a template for making an Advance Statement using this link.

How do I let people know that I have made an Advance Statement?

Decision makers can only take your Advance Statement into account if they know about it, or can make reasonable efforts to find out about it.

Keep your Advance Statement in a safe place, and share a copy of it with those who support you. This includes anyone close to you who might need to know what your wishes are, and any professionals who might help you, such as your GP.

If you change your Advance Statement, you will need to make sure that you share the new copy of it with those close to you and those helping you, so that they can stay up to date.

Page last updated: 06 Oct 2023