Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015

We all make decisions, big and small, every day of our lives. Most of us are able to make these decisions by ourselves. Sometimes we may seek information, advice, or support if the decision we are making is more complex. There are many people accessing our health services whose ability to make certain decisions about their life and choices may be affected by a disability, an accident, a medical procedure, or a chronic illness- either on a temporary or a permanent basis. With the right support, these people can continue, regardless of their condition, to exercise their right to making decisions.

A new law has been passed which maximises a person's right to make their own decisions, with legally recognised supports, whenever possible. The Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 was signed into law on the 30th December 2015.This Act applies to everyone and is relevant to all health and social care services. The Act is about supporting decision-making and maximising a person’s capacity to make decisions.

The Act has not yet been commenced. However the HSE is doing a number of things to prepare staff and services for commencement. It has established a National Steering Group which includes staff, service users and expert advisers. It has prepared four Codes of Practice on behalf of the Director of the Decision Support Service. Once the Codes of Practice and the regulations have been signed off, national guidance for staff will be issued on what the Act will mean for day to day practice. A training and education programme to support staff and services to use the Act in their every day services will also be developed.

Latest news on the Act:

  • The Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald T.D. and the Minister for Health, Simon Harris T.D. have signed Statutory Instruments which commences some parts of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015. The commencement orders – which were signed in October 2016 – mean that some parts of the Capacity Act have been brought into effect. These orders mean that the Decision Support Service (DSS) can be established and the working group to establish the code of practice for Advance Healthcare Directives can also be convened. You can view the commencement orders here and here.
  • The Director of the Decision Support Service started on 2nd October 2017 and the office is currently being established. You can find more information on the establishment of the Decision Support Service here.
  • The National Disability Authority is progressing development of 11 non-healthcare Codes of Practice. Please click here for more information. 

Latest news on the HSE Assisted Decision-Making Implementation Programme:

  • We held three events in 2019 on the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015:
  • Caoimhe Gleeson, Programme Lead, HSE Assisted Decision-Making and Consent Office, participated in a QI Talktime in May 2019. You can see the slides and view the recording here.
  • The HSE has developed a number of draft Codes of Practice on the Act on behalf of the Decision Support Service - three on Advance Healthcare Directives and an overarching Code on the Act for Health and Social Care Professionals. These Codes of Practice have been submitted to the Director of the Decision Support Service for consideration. 
  • The HSE ADM and Consent Office has been delivering information and briefing sessions on the Act to services and senior management teams. If you would like us to talk to your service about the Act, please contact
  • The consultation process on the draft Codes of Practice on Advance Healthcare Directives has now concluded. Please click here to access the consultation page.
  • The consultation process on the draft Guide on the Act for health and social care professionals has now concluded. Please click here to access the consultation page.


Further information