Setting up a DNAR order

There are several ways to make sure that someone living with dementia can stay in control of their own medical care. A Do Not Attempt Resuscitation order is one of them. These are the essential facts you need to know about setting up a DNAR.

A DNAR is a very personal decision, so before you set one up make sure you have all the facts straight.

What is a DNAR?

A Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) order means you have stipulated that you do not want to have cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Most people sign a Do Not Resuscitate form (DNAR) because they are already very unwell, and have decided that, should something serious happen, they’d rather let nature take its course.

BUT if you have dementia you might want to set up a DNAR before you become ill, so that you can make sure your wishes are known well in advance.

Why have a DNAR?

Cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be quite brutal for anyone who is already frail and can sometimes result in broken ribs and organ damage. Research also suggests that it only has a 10-15 per cent success rate.

Much like an Advanced Decision, it is a legally binding document, but only covers resuscitation, and does not prevent other medical treatments in the way that an Advanced Decision does. Medical professionals will still provide treatment including making sure that you’re comfortable.

How do you set up a DNAR?

First port of call is undoubtedly your doctor. He’ll be able to discuss the order, what it involves and make sure that you understand exactly what will happen if you decide to sign one.

The form will need to include the following information:

1. Your name, address, date of birth and NHS number
2. The name, address and contact number of your GP
3. A statement as to why CPR should not happen. The doctor will include one or more of the following statements:
- Attempting CPR is unlikely to restart the patient’s heart and breathing.
- No benefit will be gained from restarting the patient’s heart and breathing.
- The expected benefit of the treatment is outweighed by the burdens and would not be in the best interests of the patient.
- Attempted resuscitation is against the competent patient’s expressed wishes.
Who needs to know about the form?

The following people need to know about the existence of your DNAR form:
- Your local GP (if you did not fill it in with him)
- The local ambulance service
- Consultants in hospital
- The out-of-hours doctor service
- Friends, family and carers