Nov 30, 2014

Summary: Bentley v Maplewood Seniors Care Society

Bentley v. Maplewood Seniors Care Society, 2014 BCSC 165 (CanLII)

Facts: Family seeking a declaration that Mrs. Bentley, who had advanced Alzheimer's, not be given nourishment or liquids, as per her alleged wishes while she was still alive. She had written a statement of wishes that asked that she be allowed to die and "not be kept alive by artificial means or heroic measures"
Issue: Is Mrs. B capable of making the decision to accept nourishment and liquids? If not, who has the legal authority to make this decision, and does the law allow that decision maker to refuse consent?
Relevant laws: S. 5 of the Health Care and Care Facilities Act says health care may not be provided without obtaining consent. Furthermore, the definition of personal care in the Representation Agreement Act includes (s. 1(a)) the "diet" of an individual

Application: Spoon-feeding constitutes personal, not health, care (para 84). A health care representative or committee doesn't have authority to discontinue nourishment and liquids administered to the incapable adult by spoon (as opposed to artificial feeding by a tube). An adult's advanced directive would need to be express on refusal of personal care by non-artificial means of nourishment.
Conclusion: Although the judge found that Mrs. B was in fact capable (as she wasn't in a total vegetative state), even if she wasn't, substitute consent would need to be found, as her statement of wishes does not constitute a clear instruction to withdraw the type of feeding support she is currently receiving. To withdraw the assistance she is currently receiving would amount to neglect under the meaning of the Adult Guardianship Act, and the court would not allow her care takers to withdraw nourishment and liquids without possibly facing criminal sanctions.