Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act (2015)

What is the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act (2015)?

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act (2015) is about supporting decision-making and maximising a person’s capacity to make decisions. This Act applies to everyone and is relevant to all health and social care services.

This new Act will assist in complying with human-rights obligations contained in the Constitution of Ireland, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act (2015) reforms the law relating to persons who require or may require assistance in exercising their decision-making capacity. Key reforms include the establishment of the Decision Support Service (DSS), abolition of wardship, statutory functional test of capacity, statutory guiding principles, new decision supporters, and advance healthcare directives.

Health and social care workers are expected to take all practical steps to help a person make a decision for themselves. If a person is found to lack decision-making capacity in one matter, this will not necessarily mean that the person also lacks capacity in another matter. The Act recognises that decision-making capacity can fluctuate, is issue-specific and time specific.

A person’s capacity to make a specific decision is their ability to:

  • understand information and facts relevant to the decision;
  • retain that information long enough to make a voluntary choice;
  • use or weigh up that information as part of the process of making the decision; and
  • communicate the decision by any means, including by assistive technology

If there is a valid reason to assess a person's decision-making capacity, a functional approach must be used. 

There are a number of reforms within the Act. The Act:

  • Introduces new guiding principles about interacting with a person who has decision-making capacity challenges (see FAQs for more detail).
  • Establishes a tiered system of decision support arrangements for people who may require support making decisions
  • Abolishes the current wardship system for adults and requires all adult wards of court to be discharged from wardship within three years of commencement of the Act.
  • Establishes the Decision Support Service (www.decisionsupportservice.ie) with clearly defined functions in relation to the Act, including promoting public awareness.
  • Provides a human rights-compliant legal framework for decision-making where a person lacks capacity to make a decision(s) and for advance healthcare directives
  • Provides for legally recognised decision-makers to support a person to maximise their decision-making powers. The Director of the Decision Support Service will have the power to investigate complaints in relation to the actions of decision supporters appointed under the Act in relation to their role as a decision-supporter.
  • Provides for the individual’s right of autonomy and self-determination to be respected
  • Moves to a functional approach to the assessment of capacity – moving away from “all or nothing” status approach
  • Puts the person and their will and preferences at the centre of their healthcare treatment, even when they may lack capacity to consent to treatment
  • Provides improved oversight of Enduring Powers of Attorney process

Learn more about the Act

Please see our explainer video to learn more about the Act. We designed it so that the video can be used across all services. It includes staff and people who use our services talking about why the Act is important to them. We have recorded a short presentation  on the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015.

Additionally, you can read our Frequently Asked Questions to the Act.

Webinars: We hosted a webinar series on the commencement and implementation of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act (2015) from February to June 2022. These webinars were based on scenarios submitted by staff, which were explored by panel discussion.

For further information on the Act we have a host of other resources, including E-Learning Programmes, pre-recorded presentations

Latest News and Upcoming Events

Read the Administrative reprint of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 Amendment Bill which incorporates the amendments made at Committee Stage by Seanad Éireann.

Launch of Easy-to-Read version of HSE National Consent Policy 2022

The HSE published its first National Consent Policy in 2013. In March 2022 a revised HSE National Consent Policy was published to reflect important legislative and policy changes since 2013. The language in the revised 2022 policy has been changed to align in preparation for commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015. We are delighted to now launch an Easy-to-Read version of this revised policy which was held on Monday 5th December at 1pm.  The recording of the launch will be available shortly on the HSE National Consent Policy page

We partnered with HSE Mental Health Services to deliver a webinar specifically for staff in mental health services on Preparations for the Commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 - considerations for HSE Mental Health Services.

This webinar took place on the 9th November 2022 from 2 pm to 3.15 pm. The webinar addressed the following issues:

  • - The interaction between the Mental Health Act 2015 and the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act (2015)
  • - Key changes for mental health practice
  • - Key supports and resources now available for staff
  • - The role and function of the Decision Support Service

View the recording of the webinar

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) (Amendment) Bill 2022 has been published by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. 

If you want to join our mailing list and receive our quarterly newsletter please contact adm@hse.ie.

While the Act was signed into law in 2015, it hasn’t commenced yet. The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) (Amendment) Bill 2022 is currently moving through the Seanad and full commencement is imminent.  When the Act is commenced it will come fully into effect and people and organisations will have to follow it.

Wardship

When the Act fully commences the Ward of Court System for Adults will be abolished.  In the interim a HSE guidance document was developed to provide a clear and consistent approach on steps required before an application for wardship of an adult is considered by the HSE. 

The Office of the Wards of Court has information on their website in relation to their plans for commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015.

About this Webpage

This webpage is from the HSE National Office for Human Rights and Equality Policy Team. It aims to present information and resources relevant to the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 to help healthcare workers implement the Act in their work.

If you want to join our mailing list, please contact adm@hse.ie

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