Mental Health Commission

Our Values: Dignity and Respect, Human Rights, Confidentiality, Quality, Accountable and Transparent, Person-Directed

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Current Status of the Decision Support Service

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 was signed by the President on 30 December 2015. The Act reforms Ireland’s capacity legislation which has been in place since the 19th century.

The Decision Support Service is an essential service for all adults who have difficulties with decision-making capacity. This may include people with an intellectual disability, mental illness or acquired brain injury, as well as people with age-related conditions who may need supports to make decisions.

During 2018 and 2019, we continued work to establish the Decision Support Service within the Commission. The Decision Support Service is provided for under the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (‘2015 Act’). The 2015 Act is a significant piece of reforming human rights legislation which provides a modern statutory framework for supported decision-making.

The 2015 Act establishes a statutory time specific and issue-specific assessment of capacity and sets out important guiding principles, emphasising privacy, autonomy, and minimal intervention.

The supports provided for, and monitored by the Decision Support Service, will help to ensure that people are afforded the fundamental human rights to make their own decisions as far as possible about their personal welfare, property and affairs and finances.

In 2018, Ireland ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Key requirements of Article 12 of the UNCRPD include:

  • Persons with disabilities have the right to recognition everywhere as persons before the law.
  • Persons with disabilities should enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life.
  • Appropriate measures should be taken to provide access by persons with disabilities to the support they may require in exercising their legal capacity.
  • All measures that relate to the exercise of legal capacity provide for appropriate and effective safeguards to prevent abuse in accordance with international human rights law. These safeguards must respect the will and preference of the person.
  • Appropriate measures should be taken to ensure the equal rights of persons with disabilities to own or inherit property, to control their own financial affairs.

The establishment of the Decision Support Service and the commencement of the 2015 Act are central to compliance with UNCRPD. The Decision Support Service will also act as Ireland’s Central Authority for the Hague Convention of the International Protection of Adults. In December 2018, the Director attended a European Commission-Hague Convention Joint Conference on the Crossborder Protection of Vulnerable Adults in Brussels and presented on the 2015 Act and the steps towards ratification of the Convention.

Implementing the Decision Support Service

During 2018 and 2019 extensive work was undertaken in preparation for a fully operational Decision Support Service. This included organisational design, scoping the service, project governance, scoping ICT infrastructure, defining the regulatory framework, undertaking stakeholder engagement and mapping out our customer journeys. As part of the planning and implementation of the Decision Support  Service, five key design principles were agreed to inform all stages of the Decision Support Service design and operationalisation

A number of successful recruitment campaigns were undertaken later in 2018 to fill key roles in the new Decision Support Service structure, as well as within the wider Commission to ensure appropriate operation supports are in place.

Codes of Practice

During 2018 and 2019, significant work was advanced in the development of a number of Codes of Practice for decision supporters and certain categories of professionals, e.g. healthcare professionals, legal and finance professionals. A large body of work was carried out by the National Disability Authority with the input of relevant technical experts and 5 draft Codes were provided to the Director of the Decision Support Service in November 2018.

In addition, the Advance Healthcare Directives Multi-Disciplinary Working Group commissioned by the Minister for Health submitted 3 draft codes to the Director in December 2018.

The Director will review the draft Codes and undertake a public consultation before the final codes are published with Ministerial approval. This work will continue in 2020.

More information is available here


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