Dignified Endings

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2015 National Retired Members Conference
26 May 2015

Conference notes that the Pensioners Charter of the National Pensioners Convention refers to dignity, respect and fair treatment of older people in all aspects of their lives. Conference further notes that the Dignity Code also produced by the National Pensioners Convention calls for individuals to make up their own minds and for personal wishes such as “living wills” to be implemented when they can no longer express themselves clearly.

Conference recognises that some terminally ill older people suffer against their wishes at the end of their lives and that some older people take matters into their own hands, including travelling at great emotional and financial cost to die in another country.

Also, Conference is aware that the law, as it stands, means that doctors cannot help a person to die. However, Conference notes that prosecution guidance, endorsed by Parliament, can be interpreted so that friends or family may help someone to die without medical advice but that the risk of being prosecuted cannot be ruled out.

Conference recognises the need to greatly improve end-of-life care and that at the same time there is a need to debate a change in the law on assisted dying for the small but significant number of people who will suffer, even with the best care.

Conference recognises that there are concerns that a change in the law might threaten potentially vulnerable people and believes that Parliament should provide sufficient time to give full consideration to whether or not a law can be enacted which provides both transparency in decision making at the end of life and protection for vulnerable older people.

Conference instructs the National Retired Members Committee and calls upon the National Executive Council to campaign for Parliament to be allowed to debate a change in the law that would allow assisted dying, subject to full safeguards for vulnerable older people.