Decision-making assistant

If a person is unable to make certain decisions on their own without someone’s support, they will be able to choose someone they know and trust to be their decision-making assistant.

As a decision-making assistant you will have the legal authority to help the person by gathering relevant information and explaining it to them. You will help the person to understand and weigh up their options. You can also support the person to let other people know about the decision that has been made.

As a decision-making assistant, you do not make a decision with or on behalf of the person. Your role is to support the person to make decisions for themselves.

If a person wants you to be their decision-making assistant, they will be able to make a decision-making assistance agreement. The agreement is made in writing and lists the decisions you can help with. You can only help with decisions that are included in the agreement.

Who can be a decision-making assistant?

You can become a decision-making assistant if you are an adult (18 years and over). You must be known and trusted by the person appointing you.

Some people cannot be a decision-making assistant. You are not allowed to be a decision-making assistant if you:

  • have been convicted of an offence against the person appointing you
  • are financially insolvent (unless the agreement is only about personal welfare decisions)
  • are the owner or a registered provider of a designated care or mental health facility where the person lives (unless you are a relative of the person)
  • have previously been a decision-making assistant for the person but were removed from that role

What’s involved in being a decision-making assistant?

As a decision-making assistant, your role will be to help a person with the decisions included in their decision-making assistance agreement. This means you will be able to access relevant information and records for the person. This might involve contacting a bank, utility, or healthcare provider.

You will help them to understand and weigh up their options. You will support them to let other people know about the decision that has been made.

Read more about What’s involved in being a decision-making assistant?

Monitoring and supervision

Decision-making assistants will not be required to send reports to us.

However, we can send someone to talk to you, or the person who has appointed you, and ask that person to provide us with a report. For example, we may send a general visitor or special visitor to talk to you if we have received a complaint, or want to make sure the agreement is working the way that it should.

How do I become a decision-making assistant?

If a person wants you to be their decision-making assistant, they will make a decision-making assistance agreement with you.

The agreement must be made in writing and include details of the decisions you will help with. It must be signed by you, the person appointing you, and two witnesses. It must include a statement by you to confirm you understand and will perform your role.

The Department of Justice and Equality are currently making rules that will set out more requirements for making this type of agreement. We will provide you with more information as soon as we can.

How to find out if someone is a decision-making assistant?

When we are sent a decision-making assistance agreement, we will review it and provide the person and their decision-making assistant with a certified copy of the agreement. This confirms that the decision-making assistant has the legal authority to help with certain decisions.

The certified copy can be requested by anyone who may have dealings with the decision-making assistant.

Making a complaint about a decision-making assistant

Any person can make a complaint to us about a decision-making assistant. Complaints must be made in writing and must be for one of the following reasons:

  • the decision-making assistant is helping with decisions that are not included in the agreement
  • the decision-making assistant is trying to make decisions on behalf of the person
  • the decision-making assistant is unable to perform their functions and responsibilities
  • fraud, coercion or undue pressure was used to get the person to make the agreement

Find out more about making a complaint about a decision-making assistant, here.