Sensitivity on ‘do not resuscitate’ decisions is vital | Letter

Usha Grieve from Compassion in Dying highlights the longstanding problems with regard to how DNR conversations are handled with individuals and their families

The Paralympian Helene Raynsford has shone a light on the distress caused when DNR (do not resuscitate) decisions and conversations are not done appropriately (Paralympian Helene Raynsford was asked to sign ‘do not resuscitate’ form, 22 November). This is symptomatic of longstanding issues with communication around DNRs, which were exacerbated during the pandemic. To base these decisions on assumptions about someone’s disability or age is not only unacceptable, it is also unlawful. Doing so can have a catastrophic impact on people’s trust in the healthcare system, and can result in them being denied appropriate life-saving treatment.

Making assumptions based on disability or age also undermines the essential role that DNR decisions play in end-of-life care. When made and communicated properly, these decisions protect patients from invasive and often futile treatment that can do more harm than good. They can also open up important conversations about someone’s wishes for end of life.

It is a decision that many people want to make proactively – the proportion of calls that Compassion in Dying received on this issue more than doubled in 2020, with the vast majority seeking support to refuse CPR and other life-sustaining treatments should they become seriously ill.

As Helene has said, individuals must be in the driving seat of their care. DNR conversations must always involve the individual or those close to them, and be based on their circumstances and wishes. Helene’s experience should act as a warning that there is much more work to be done to ensure that this is a reality for everyone.
Usha Grieve
Director of partnerships and services, Compassion in Dying

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Creating a safer world beyond the Covid pandemic | Letters
Letters: Dr Klara Saville on the independent report into pandemic planning and Tilly Lavenás on the role that animals have played in vaccine development. Plus letters from Karen Dawn, Marion Judd, Ruth Driscoll and Richard Kramer

Letters

18, May, 2021 @5:21 PM

Article image
Allow us the option of a humane, painless death | Letters
Letters: Readers share their perspectives on Baroness Meacher’s assisted dying bill

Letters

27, Oct, 2021 @5:17 PM

Article image
Support for mental health is vital | Letters
Letters: The effect of lockdown on disabled people and the need for suitable housing is highlighted by Celia Thomas, while Barbara Davey points to the help available for students from university chaplains

Letters

20, Sep, 2020 @4:16 PM

Article image
Disabled man’s death after his benefits were stopped brings back sad memories | Letters
Letters: Jane Ghosh, whose son died in 2018, says the assessment process is severe, Dr Chris Grover says Errol Graham’s death was a social murder, and Amanda Theunissen is struggling to be grateful for a 25p pension increase

Letters

03, Feb, 2020 @6:51 PM

Article image
Assisted dying law is about choice, not getting rid of disabled people
Letters: Recent proposals for legislation contain more safeguards than exist now, says Colin Low. Plus contributions from Tom Shakespeare and Christie Arntsen

Letters

03, Jun, 2018 @4:59 PM

Article image
The pain of ‘moving on’ after a loved one dies | Letters
Letters: Jean Simons says parents who have lost a child may resent their grief being labelled as unduly prolonged, and Louise Rendle says a support group was invaluable when her husband died. Plus a letter from Rev Cecil Heatley

Letters

21, Jun, 2022 @4:37 PM

Article image
Palliative care at home for Covid patients needs support | Letter
Letters: Campaigners from the group In My Own Bed Please warn about the lack of emergency care for those with severe Covid-19 who prefer to stay in their own home

Letters

14, Jan, 2021 @5:50 PM

Article image
When Christian Science and illness collide | Letter
Letter: Lucy McPhail shares her family’s experience of Christian Science and says Mary Baker Eddy’s advice did not help

Letters

16, Aug, 2019 @3:17 PM

Article image
Pelvic floor exercises with imaginary eels | Brief letters
Brief letters: Anti-vaxxers | Adam Kay’s pelvic advice | European parliament | Funeral songs | Black squirrels

Letters

07, May, 2019 @4:56 PM

Article image
Let people have right to die when they choose | Letters
Letters: Readers discuss the rights and wrongs of making assisted dying legal in Britain

Letters

29, Mar, 2019 @5:49 PM