Decision Support Service publishes codes of practice
24 Apr, 2023
The Director of the Decision Support Service (DSS) has this morning published 13 codes of practice under the to provide essential guidance in relation to the practical implementation of the the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (as amended) (‘the 2015 Act’).
These codes are intended to guide the new ‘decision supporters’ entering into formal legal arrangements under the 2015 Act, and also healthcare, legal and financial professionals, and independent advocates and all those engaging with persons who may need support to exercise their right to make decisions.
This Wednesday, April 26, has been named by the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth as the date when the 2015 Act will be commenced and the codes of practice will come into effect at the same time as the Act becomes operational.
The DSS, which is established under the 2015 Act, is a long-awaited and essential new State service for all adults who may need support with their decision-making capacity, and anyone who wishes to plan ahead by way of an enduring power of attorney or an advance healthcare directive. The DSS will also officially open its doors on 26 April.
Key reforms under the 2015 Act include the abolition of the wards of court system for adults under the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act of 1871, and the establishment of a new rights-based framework for supported decision-making.
Draft codes were initially prepared by the National Disability Authority, along with expert writing groups and a HSE multi-disciplinary group appointed by the Minister for Health. A public consultation on the draft codes was conducted by the DSS between November 2021 and February 2022 and over 300 responses were received. The responses came from a diverse range of organisations and people, including potential future service users of the DSS, regulators, service providers, and representative bodies.
Ten codes were approved by the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth, and three codes relating to healthcare matters were approved by the Minister for Health.
Under the provisions of the 2015 Act, the remit of the Mental Health Commission was extended to include the establishment of the DSS. The Chief Executive of the Mental Health Commission, John Farrelly said: “It is a key strategic objective of the Mental Health Commission that, on behalf of the Irish State, we ensure that we establish a Decision Support Service that will deliver on its statutory functions to maximise autonomy for all those who need it. “The publication of the codes is another major step towards achieving that.”
The Director of the Decision Support Service, Áine Flynn, said that the codes have been designed to provide practical guidance to those who have statutory obligations under the 2015 Act, including persons providing support as part of the new legal framework. It also provides best practice guidance for professionals interacting with a person with decision-making capacity challenges.
“In straightforward terms, the codes provide guidance on how to support people to make their own decisions as far as possible and how to assess capacity only when that is necessary,” she said. “They also provide guidance to professionals about how to work with people who are appointed under the different decision support arrangements, called decision supporters.
“I would like to pay special tribute to those who originally drafted the codes, as well as the hundreds of bodies and individuals who responded so enthusiastically to the public consultation and who helped us to fine-tune some of the codes to ensure they are fit for purpose.”
In addition to the codes of practice, the DSS has also developed a range of accompanying materials, including a plain English guide to the codes; plain English leaflets; informational videos on each code delivered by DSS staff; accessible guidance documents for people who want to make a decision support arrangement or use other DSS services; an easy-read guide to the 2015 Act and the DSS; and materials setting out approximately 60 different scenarios to help to explain how each code could apply in real-life.
Link to the Codes of Practice can be found through this link here or by clicking on the code of practice links below.