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Empowering Autonomy with the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2023

By January 11, 2024 No Comments
Assisted Decision Making capacity Act 2023

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act, which came into effect in Ireland in April 2023, represents a significant shift in the approach to decision-making support for individuals with diminished or fluctuating mental capacity. This legislation introduces a more person-centered approach, replacing the older “Wards of Court” system with a framework that emphasizes the individual’s right to make their own decisions as much as possible.

Key aspects of the Act include:

1. Supported Decision-Making:

The Act focuses on providing support to individuals to make their own decisions, rather than making decisions on their behalf. This support can come in various forms, such as presenting information in an understandable way, outlining available choices, or creating advance plans for future decision-making needs.

2. Three-Tier Support System:

Under the new legislation, there are three levels of decision-making support:

  1.  Decision-Making Assistance: Individuals can appoint a decision-making assistant, retaining the ultimate responsibility for their decisions.
  2. Co-Decision-Maker: Individuals can appoint someone to make decisions jointly with them.
  3. Decision-Making Representative: In cases where individuals are unable to make decisions, even with assistance, a representative can be appointed by the Circuit Court to make certain decisions on their behalf.

3. Decision Support Service (DSS):

The DSS is a new statutory agency responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Act. It regulates and registers decision support arrangements and supervises the actions of decision supporters.

4. Enhanced Powers for the Director of the DSS:

The amendments in the 2022 bill are aimed at empowering the director of the DSS, giving them more authority to handle and resolve complaints, investigate decision supporters, and take protective measures for the individuals concerned.

5. Shift in Legal Framework:

The Act replaces the substitute decision-making approach, where decisions were made for individuals deemed to be incapable, with a supported decision-making approach that puts the individual’s will and preferences at the center of the decision-making process.

6. Application and Oversight:

The Act is relevant to all areas of life where decision-making is required, such as healthcare, finances, and personal welfare. It also introduces new reporting requirements and procedures for dealing with complaints and investigations related to decision supporters.

7. Transitional Provisions for Existing Wards of Court:

Existing Wards of Court will transition out of the High Court’s jurisdiction within three years of the Act’s commencement. They will either be discharged if they are deemed to have capacity or transitioned to the new support system if they continue to require decision support.

This Act is a significant step in promoting the rights and autonomy of individuals with disabilities in Ireland, aligning with the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

It’s crucial for practitioners, especially in the legal and healthcare sectors, to familiarize themselves with the new framework and its implications for individuals requiring decision-making support.

If you need clarification or assistance in this Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2023 please contact us today

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