Best Interests Meeting
These meetings take place when someone is receiving treatment and there needs to be a discussion about how they will be cared for in the future, when they are cognitively impaired and cannot make that decision for themselves and there is no attorney who directs what happens, as the person has not created Lasting Powers of Attorney. They can either be a multi-disciplinary discussion as the case in complex and it is easier to decide what should happen going forward when everyone is in one room and there can be a full and frank conversation about that person’s various and complex needs. Additionally and alternatively they can take place where there is a dispute about how someone should be cared for, particularly if that dispute is with the family.
These meetings are aimed at being constructive rather than too formal, but where there is a minute taker and a room full of health professionals from various disciplines, they are very intimidating.
Families know their loved one well, they know what they would want and have a good idea about how they will react to certain situations, however they are usually not healthcare professionals and can struggle to feel that they have been heard. These meetings take place around a highly stressful situation, when a loved one is unwell, that’s enough stress to deal with on its own, then adding what is perceived to be an intimidating meeting can often be too much to be able to sit rationally and articulately and be understood.
The purpose of the meeting is to make a decision in that person’s best interests. In accordance with the House of Lords post legislative scrutiny of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which was published in 2014, the Lords said that in general health professionals are paternalistic and social services are risk averse. This makes it hard for families to assert that their loved one would prefer an outcome that involved more risk that the health care professionals are comfortable with.
I have supported many families in these kinds of meetings, to ensure that they feel that they have been heard and are supported so that they don’t feel quite so alone and do not understand the process that they are involved in. If you need any help with this, please contact me.