Decision-making support service launched as part of new safeguarding laws

James Cox

Up to 220,000 Irish people who currently have difficulties with decision-making will be able to avail of a new State support service which was launched on Wednesday.

The Decision Support Service (DSS) is for adults who may require help, now or in the future, to exercise their right to make decisions about personal welfare, property, or affairs.

This could include adults with an intellectual disability, a mental illness, an acquired brain injury, or those with neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia.

The DSS is provided for under the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015, which will become operational law when Ministerial orders are signed later on Wednesday.

Estimates suggest that there could be as many as 220,000 people living in Ireland who have capacity-related difficulties and who may become users of the DSS. Based on the above figure, it is estimated that one in 20 adults could have an active arrangement registered with the DSS, and that one in every two people will interact with the DSS in their lifetime.

As anyone could face challenges with decision-making in their future lives, the 2015 Act also provides new tools for any adult who wishes to plan ahead by way of an advance healthcare directive, or a revised form of an enduring power of attorney. The DSS can also support people to plan for the future by utilising these tools.

At the DSS launch, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “The Decision Support Service is a progressive and far-reaching new State-run service that will benefit many people, particularly those who experience challenges in terms of their needs or decision-making abilities. The service will allow people to exercise more independence relating to their legal affairs and their future. It will provide assistance and assurance to a great many people and their families.”

A core principle of the Act is that all persons have the presumption of capacity and should be supported to make their own decisions as far as is possible. The Act emphasises minimal restriction of a person’s rights and freedoms and the importance of respect for will and preferences.

Key reforms include the abolition of the wards of court system for adults under the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act of 1871, and the discharge of adults from wardship within three years. The Act will provide a new tiered framework of formal supports for those who need them, with supervision by the DSS.

Source link

Tags: No tags

Comments are closed.