DNR: A guide for understanding your rights and challenging decisions

Learning Disability England has been working in partnership with Turning Point.

We have made a guide to help people with learning disabilities, their families and support staff understand DNRs.

What is a DNR?

Do Not Attempt Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation order is a medical document.

They are sometimes called DNACPR or DNAR or DNR.

DNACPR is the official name.  On this page we are going to call it DNR because its more accessible.

It means that if someone’s heart stops working doctors will not try to restart it.

Doctors should only put a DNR order on someone’s file if they believe someone is dying and there is no chance they will get better.

If doctors do not think restarting someone’s heart will help them get better, they will create a DNR order.

You and your family should be included in decisions about this.

No one should have a DNR put on their file just because they have a learning disability.

What do we know about DNRs?

In April we asked members if they had seen any changes in how many people were given DNRs.

We were worried that more people might have been given them because of coronavirus. This would be wrong.

NHS England have said its not right to give people a DNR order just because they have a learning disability.

18 organisations had seen DNRs placed in people’s medical records without consultation in March and April.

The survey found around 2/3 of the organisations replying did not report an increase in DNRs in 2020 for the people they support.

You can read more here.

We’ve created another survey to check if things have changed. It would be great if members could fill it in.

You can find the new survey here.

DNR Guide

We wanted to make sure people know their rights and can challenge doctors if DNRs are put in place when they shouldn’t be.

We have made this guide in partnership with Turning Point.

The guide has

  • Information about the law and human rights
  • A checklist to help you think about what you can do to challenge DNRs
  • Template letters for challenging or getting doctors to help
  • Example DNR form so you know what it looks like.

Here is an easy read about rights.

Download it here.

Here is an easy read about the questions you can ask to challenge

Download it here.

We have two versions of the full pack.

There is a interactive digital of the pack which you can view here.

This version helps you identify your issue and takes you to the right template.

There is also a printable version. You can view it here.

Visit the DNR resource section on our Corona virus Hub for other resources