Protecting your own interests. The adult protection law promotes autonomy.
Autonomy instead of heteronomy. That is what the Swiss adult protection law stands for. But it is only possible if we make use of our creative potential. Why it is important to draw up an advance directive and living will.
Why the adult protection law and child and adult protective services are needed
The Swiss adult protection law is a sub-section of the child and adult protection law. Not only children, but also adults need help or protection in certain situations. For example, if they lose their powers of judgment as a result of illness, an accident, or senility.
Child and adult protective services (CAPA) is responsible for ensuring that people in need are protected and that the law is applied correctly. Where necessary, CAPA orders conservatorship and appoints a conservator to support and represent the adult concerned. But above all, the adult protection law provides autonomy. Whenever possible, this – or otherwise, the legal right of representation by the spouse or registered partner – takes precedence over measures by the authorities. There are two measures to ensure this in case of loss of judgment: The advance directive and the living will.
Taking precautions with an advance directive and living will
In the advance directive, any adult person capable of judgment can determine who will represent them if they are no longer able to look after themselves. The advance directive contains tasks for everyday life, but also for asset management and representation in legal communications. The authorized representative can be issued instructions on how to fulfill the tasks.
A living will covers all medical matters. It can be used to record which medical procedures can be carried out if the person can no longer decide for themselves. A representative can also be appointed to represent the person's own will and have access to their medical history. A living will can also include other instructions – for example, relating to organ donation, pastoral support, or the desired place of death.
Making the advance directive and living will easy to find
Both documents, the advance directive and the living will, must be easy to find in a serious situation. However, the recommendations for this vary. The advance directive should be stored in a location that can be accessed by family members or other trusted persons. The storage location can be entered in the register of persons at the registry office. In some cantons, the advance directive can also be stored directly with the competent CAPA.
The living will, on the other hand, should be given to the doctor treating the person concerned and, in any case, to the authorized representative. In addition, an instruction card with the storage location of the living will and emergency contact is to be included in the wallet.
Options for using the adult protection law early
People who do not write a living will or advance directive may no longer be able to decide for themselves in a serious situation. If there is no living will, relatives and doctors will have to decide what medical treatment to carry out. For example, what life-preserving measures to take or whether to switch the machines off if there is no prospect of recovery. If there is no advance directive and the partner representation right does not apply, CAPA will appoint a conservator.
Accidents are a daily occurrence and serious illnesses do not only affect older people. Only people who still have the capacity to make a rational judgment can prevent decisions being made for them by other people. An advance directive and living will also take the burden off relatives. So take care of it in good time – for example, with our sample advance directive.