Paralympian Helene Raynsford was asked to sign the ‘do not resuscitate’ form |  Incompetence

Paralympian Helene Raynsford was asked to sign the ‘do not resuscitate’ form | Incompetence

A Paralympian has said she was made to feel like her life was “not worthy” after being asked to sign a “do not resuscitate” (DNR) form despite not having a life-limiting condition.

Helene Raynsford, 42, a wheelchair user, is a former rowing champion who won a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. She was asked to sign the form, commonly referred to as a DNR, by someone with no medical training after being invited to an appointment initiated by a primary care network in the South East of England.

Raynsford believes she was asked to sign the DNR purely because she is a wheelchair user, as she is neither elderly nor suffering from a serious ailment.

She has decided to speak out about her experience to warn others with disabilities who may also be asked to sign this type of agreement simply because they are a wheelchair user or use some other type of assistive device to assist them in daily life.

“At the appointment, the person who asked me to sign the DNR was not a trained health professional,” Raynsford said. “She also asked me about my understanding of my medical condition and whether I had power of attorney.

“I was quite frustrated with the whole thing. It made me feel like I wasn’t worth it. The only information this person knew was that I’m a wheelchair user. I’m a big fan of really good end-of-life care and talk about options, but I don’t have a life-limiting condition at the moment.

“The whole appointment felt bizarre. I would be concerned if any hasty decisions were made. I think these kinds of conversations should be had with healthcare professionals who know the person, not with people without medical training. I felt compelled to speak out to protect other people with disabilities and I hope the implementation will be reviewed.

Raynsford said she “politely refused” to sign the form and said she would do some research on it first.

“I wanted to make an informed decision and I really didn’t like this,” she said. “I don’t know what safeguards there are for more vulnerable people. My GP was shocked when I told her what had happened and was so apologetic. She told me that I am not the kind of person who should have these forms put on me.

Reflecting on the episode, she added: “Is there a judgment being made about the value of my life compared to someone else’s life? Would this mean that if I were injured in a car accident, my life wouldn’t be worth saving? There’s not much that gets me down, but this really held me back and made me feel like my worthiness for treatment was being questioned.

Paralympian Anne Wafula Strike, also a wheelchair user, expressed alarm over what had happened to her fellow athlete.

She said: “Being disabled should never disqualify people from having a life. I have reminded people several times that being a wheelchair user does not mean I should be subject to exclusion, discrimination or unequal treatment.”

A spokesperson for the Raynsford area Integrated Care Board said: “A ‘do
Do not resuscitate notification should only be issued by a medical professional who is fully aware of a patient’s health problems and with the consent of the patient or his caregivers.

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