The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) review into the application of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) or Do Not Attempt Resuscitate (DNAR) orders during the Covid-19 pandemic reveals incorrect and ageist use.

The term ‘Do Not Attempt Resuscitate‘ is a recent change to the order ‘Do Not Resuscitate‘, underlining that attempts to resuscitate are just that – attempts.

Ageism in DNAR orders

As solicitors specialising in supporting older and vulnerable people in Essex, we know that sadly, ageism in care is nothing new.

It is horrifying to think that DNAR orders are being applied to groups of older and vulnerable people. This is not how they should be used. And however stretched our health and care services are, this kind of disregard for older people cannot be tolerated.

Guidelines for DNAR are available

Best practice guidelines have been set out by the Resuscitation Council UK, but they are not being followed everywhere.

Clinicians need to do better here, too often the Resuscitation Council’s guidance is being ignored or treated as merely a ‘tick box’ exercise rather than prompting meaningful consultation with patients and loved ones.

Healthcare issues and age

There is clearly a need for all of us to initiate our own conversations about whether we’d want Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and also about our wider care wishes.

Once we’re in an emergency situation it’s often too late.
Worryingly, only 59% of those aged 70+ have talked to loved ones about their care wishes. And whilst 81% of us think planning ahead for later life is important, only 22% of us have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, setting out our wishes in writing in a legally binding way.

Lessons to learn

As a society, we must start talking about our wishes should we lose mental and/or physical capacity or require emergency medical treatment.

This recent investigation into the use of DNARs must encourage us all to have those difficult – but vital – conversations, no matter what our age.

If have any concerns or queries at all regarding care wishes and Lasting Powers of Attorney then please contact Bryony Wilmshurst, Partner at Cunningtons LLP and member of SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) on:

01376 567280 or email at

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