All practitioner members of the AREBT must have made arrangements in the event of their becoming involved in an accident, suddenly becoming seriously ill or dying. This responsibility is included in our AREBT Code of Conduct. This guidance is intended to assist practitioners in deciding what to include in a clinical will.
Please note that this does not represent legal advice. The terms ‘will’ and ‘executor’ are not describing ‘legal terms’ in this case.
It is good practice in the care of your clients to ensure that should you become seriously ill or die, that this news is broken to them in a sensitive and timely manner. You will also need to make practical arrangements with regard to the disposal of your records and dealing with any financial matters.
Without a plan, things could be very difficult for your next of kin, and your clients.
If you are working in an organisation, then do make sure that the organisation has in place a policy/procedure around informing your clients.
If you are working privately, then you will need to develop your own policy/procedure via a clinical will. The clinical will is a written document that gives instructions with regard to your clinical practice. It allows a designated person to work on your behalf. It is similar to an executor of a will, but has no legal basis.
If working privately do contact your referral agencies/insurance companies as they may have their own instructions for your executor.
What to include in a clinical will?
There are three areas you will need to consider:
Clinical: informing your clients, supervisor (if they are not the executor) and supervisees, arranging onward referral to an alternative practitioner if appropriate
Financial: dealing with financial matters. For example: cancelling direct debits, subscriptions and insurance policies; dealing with matters relating to self-employment (e.g., dealing with HMRC); paying outstanding bills and collecting outstanding debts
Administrative: For example: informing professional membership bodies; disposing of client and supervision records; taking down professional websites/social media profiles
The above are only key examples and in advance of writing a clinical will it is important to consider all the actions that will need to be taken. Some of these areas will overlap.
Who will be your ‘executor’ and how will they access your records?
You will need to name an ‘executor’ and this will need to be discussed with them. Do not assume that your supervisor will automatically agree to this duty.
You will also have to nominate someone to inform your ‘executor’ in case you are unable to do so.
You will also need to give the ‘executor’ written instructions that will enable them to perform this duty, including delegating financial/administrative tasks, as appropriate.
What information must be included in a clinical will?
- The names and contact details of your Next of Kin who will inform your clinical ‘executor’. This may need to be more than just one person to ensure timely notification
- The name and contact details of your clinical ‘executor’
- The names of referrers/insurance companies and their contact details. Do note that these agencies may need to be contacted, rather than the clinical ‘executor’ making direct contact with the clients (according to their policies/procedures)
- Instructions with regard to how the clinical ‘executor’ will access the names and contact details of your current clients (and supervisees), in the event of an emergency
- Arrangements for the disposal/deletion of physical or digital client records with detailed instructions
What additional clinical information could be included?
- Other clinical information such as the days/times of sessions
What non-clinical details related to your practice also need to be included?
- The names and details of other organisations that need to be informed: professional bodies, insurers, website hosting, directories
- Details of the websites/social media pages that may need to be modified/taken down
Finally: Where will your ‘clinical will’ be stored? As a minimum requirement a written form of this ‘clinical will’ must be shared with your next of kin and your clinical executor. It may be kept alongside your personal will.
- Information should be included in your contracting with your clients regarding the arrangements you have made for them to be informed if you became seriously unwell or die. This information should be given sensitively and the clients should be invited to discuss any concerns they may have about this or any other aspect of your written contract.
- Provision should be made for your clinical ‘executor’ to receive payment for their time and this should be agreed and included in the clinical will.
- Under data protection regulations such as the UK GDPR and DPA 2018, we are required to make sure we only share information for a good reason (called ‘legitimate interest’).
- Do be careful not to give any more information to your clinical ‘executor’ than they need.
- Update your clinical will regularly so that it is still fit for purpose