Mental Health Commission

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Director of the Decision Support Service

The Mental Health Commission has appointed Áine Flynn as Director of the Decision Support Service (DSS) and she commenced in post on the 2nd October 2017. She is a member of staff of the Mental Health Commission.

The Director has responsibility for the implementation of many of the important changes brought about by the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act of 2015. Central to the Act are the guiding principles of presumption of capacity, and minimal intervention in the affairs of others in order to respect individual will and preferences. The Director has a duty to inform the public about the Act, and about the supports available through the DSS to those who require assistance with their decision-making. The Director will establish and maintain panels of suitable people willing to act as decision-making representatives, court friends and special and general visitors. She will also supervise and handle complaints against decision-making assistants, co-decision makers, decision-making representatives, attorneys with enduring powers of attorney and designated healthcare representatives. The Director will approve and publish Codes of Practice in relation to the Act. Significant progress has already been made by specially commissioned expert groups tasked with the preparation of these codes.

The specific statutory functions of the Director are as follows:

General Functions of the Director

The general functions of the Director of the Decision Support Service are set out in Part 9 of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 as follows:

  • (a) to promote public awareness of the Act and matters (including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) relating to the exercise of their capacity by persons who require or may shortly require assistance in exercising their capacity;
  • (b) to promote public confidence in the process of dealing with matters which affect persons who require or may shortly require assistance in exercising their capacity;
  • (c) to provide information to relevant persons in relation to their options under the Act for exercising their capacity;
  • (d) to provide information to decision-making assistants, co-decision-makers, decision-making representatives, designated healthcare representatives and attorneys in relation to the performance of their functions under the Act;
  • (e) to supervise, in accordance with the provisions of the Act, compliance by decision-making assistants, co-decision-makers, decision-making representatives and attorneys in the performance of their functions under the Act;
  • (f) to provide information in relation to the management of property and financial affairs to relevant persons and to decision-making assistants, co-decision-makers, decision-making representatives and attorneys;
  • (g) to provide information and guidance to organisations and bodies in the State in relation to their interaction with relevant persons;
  • (h) to provide information and guidance to organisations and bodies in the State in relation to their interaction with decision-making assistants, co-decision-makers, decision-making representatives, attorneys and designated healthcare representatives;
  • (i) to identify and make recommendations for change of practices in organisations and bodies in which the practices may prevent a relevant person from exercising his or her capacity under the Act;
  • (j) to establish a website on the internet or provide, or arrange for the provision of, other electronic means by which to disseminate information to members of the public relevant to the performance of the Director’s functions and which will, in the opinion of the Director, assist members of the public to understand the operation of the Act and the Director’s role in relation thereto;
  • (k) to make recommendations to the Minister for Justice and Equality on any matter relating to the operation of the Act

Regulatory Functions of the Director

The Director has a number of specific regulatory functions under the 2015 Act in respect of six different types of decision-making support arrangements:

  • 1. Decision making assistance agreements;
  • 2. Co-decision making agreements;
  • 3. Decision-making representatives;
  • 4. Individuals exercising enduring powers of attorney;
  • 5. Advanced healthcare directives;
  • 6. Wards of Court who are being transitioned from the Wards of Court system.

The Director may initiate an investigation following receipt of a complaint, or instigate an investigation on her own initiative in relation to the conduct of decision-making assistants, co-decision-makers, decision-making representatives and attorneys. In addition, the Director shall receive and consider complaints and allegations in relation to the way in which a designated healthcare representative is exercising his/her powers in relation to advanced healthcare directives.

The Director is granted a variety of powers to enable her to undertake the complaints function including the power to summon witnesses, to examine witnesses under oath, to require the production of documents and to require the provision of information that the Director considers necessary to enable her to carry out her functions. 

The Director also has specific regulatory functions in relation to the appointment and supervision of panels of special and general visitors and court friends.

Maintenance and Regulation of a Register of Agreements

A Register of agreements is required to be established and maintained by the Director. Specifically, the Director is required to establish and maintain a Register of co-decision making agreements, decision-making representation orders and enduring powers of attorney. The various agreements to which the registration requirements apply, will not enter into force until they have been reviewed and registered on the centralised Register by the Director. In advance of registration of an agreement, the Director is required to review and examine the accompanying documentation to ensure that they comply with the requirements of the 2015 Act. The Director is required to review the various agreements on a regular periodic basis and to examine requests to vary agreements in accordance with fluctuating capacity or to revoke agreements in specific circumstances.

Financial and Property Management Functions

The 2015 Act provides that in certain limited circumstances the Circuit Court may confer on the Director the custody, control and management of some or all of the property of a relevant person which will require financial management processes and procedures. This may occur notwithstanding that there has been a decision-making representative appointed by the Circuit Court. 

Codes of Practice

The 2015 Act provides that the Director shall prepare, publish, request or approve a code of practice developed for the purposes of providing various healthcare and other professionals with guidance for the operation of the legislation, as well as the interveners (decision-making assistants, co-decision makers, decision-making representatives), and specialists appointed by the Director and the Court. The development of the Codes of Practice is required to be accompanied by a consultation process with a variety of organisations and representatives of professional bodies in the healthcare, social care, legal and financial sectors.

Central Authority for the purposes of the operation of the Convention on the International Protection of Adults 2000

The 2015 Act provides that the Director shall act as the Central Authority for the purposes of the operation of The Hague Convention on the International Protection of Adults.

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Contact Details

Waterloo Exchange, Waterloo Road, Dublin 4

Ph: 353(1) 636 2400

Fax: 353(1) 636 2440

Eircode: D04 E5W7

GPS coordinates: 53°19'58.6"N 6°14'36.9"W