Countdown to launch of new service for people with disabilities begins in earnest

15 Oct, 2021


The countdown to the launch of the Decision Support Service (DSS) is well underway following confirmation of an expected uplift in funding in the recent budget.

The DSS will open in June 2022 and will provide a vital service for all adults who have difficulties with decision-making. This is likely to include those with an intellectual disability, mental illness or acquired brain injury, as well as people with neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia. As many as 200,000 adults could potentially benefit from the new service.

The additional funding of €1.5 million was announced by the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, and Minister for Disability, Anne Rabbitte, bringing the total DSS 2022 budget to €7.3 million.

The DSS is provided for under the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015, which has been described as significant and long-awaited human rights-based legislation. The Act abolishes the wards of court system, and also provides enhanced tools to allow all people to plan ahead by way of enduring powers of attorney and advance healthcare directives.

Commencement of the 2015 Act has been identified as a priority in the current programme for government and essential to compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

“This Act and our service will fundamentally change how we interact with and support adults who have difficulties making everyday decisions,” said the Director of the Decision Support Service, Áine Flynn. “As a society, we are making a hugely positive step forward and we now need everyone to inform themselves about the 2015 Act and the DSS over the coming months and understand how the lives of people with decision-making difficulties are going to change for the better. We will review our project plans in light of the budget allocation announced this week and remain committed to the commencement of a fully-equipped DSS that is ready to deliver.

“As part of our ongoing engagement programme, we have noted how many people believe that the Act and the DSS is only relevant to people who currently require support to make decisions. This is a mistake. As the Act also provides tools for advance planning, it is legislation that is relevant to every one of us.”

Mr. John Farrelly, the Chief Executive of the Mental Health Commission - under whose remit the DSS is being established – said: “we acknowledge the additional funding in what is a constrained period for the State financially. The Mental Health Commission will continue to play a critical role in bringing this important human rights-based service to the people of Ireland as quickly as possible.”

The DSS is set to commence a consultation process in November around codes of practice for the guidance of persons and professionals interacting with people who will ultimately benefit from the service. We will also run a significant public information campaign in 2022 designed to inform as many people as possible about the new service.

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