FAQ

Frequently asked questions

The Decision Support Service is a new service for all adults who have difficulties with their decision-making capacity. This may include people with an intellectual disability, mental illness or acquired brain injury, as well as people with age-related conditions who may need supports to make decisions.

The Decision Support Service is a public body established within the Mental Health Commission by the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015. Our job is to register the new decision support arrangements and supervise the individuals who are providing a range of supports to people with capacity difficulties.

Any adult who needs support to exercise their decision-making capacity could need the Decision Support Service. This may include, but is not limited to people with an intellectual disability, mental illness or acquired brain injury, as well as people with age-related conditions, such as dementia. People may require the Decision Support Service when a third party such as a bank, lawyer or hospital questions a person’s capacity to make a decision or give consent.

Any person who wants to plan ahead for a time in the future when they may lose capacity could also need the Decision Support Service.

No, the Decision Support Service will not make decisions for you. If you need help with certain decisions, you can appoint a decision supporter to help you. The type of help your decision supporter can provide will depend on the decision support arrangement that is in place.

In some cases, the court may ask us to provide a decision-making representative from our panel of trained experts to act as your decision supporter. A decision-making representative can only be assigned to you by a court order.

We are not fully operational at this time. We are waiting for commencement of the new law (the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015). We are working closely with the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Health about the new law. We hope to provide an update soon on the exact opening date of the Decision Support Service.

Many different organisations will need to be ready for the new law. Find out more on our Getting Ready page.

If you have a safeguarding concern about an adult who may be at risk, please contact the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE have dedicated Safeguarding and Protection Teams that deal with safety concerns. A list of HSE contact details can be found on our Useful Links page.

In the case of an emergency, please contact the Gardaí or emergency services.

We are not currently able to receive complaints. When we are fully operational, we will be able to investigate complaints about decision-making arrangements and decision supporters.

If there is a medical emergency, and you do not have a decision supporter or an advance statement (for example an advance healthcare directive or an enduring power of attorney), a healthcare professional may need to provide you with necessary treatment without your consent. If you do have a decision supporter or an advance statement - and the healthcare professional has access to it, they will have to consult your supporter or statement, unless the delay in doing so might cause you serious harm.

It is important that if you make an advance healthcare directive or an enduring power of attorney, which includes your wishes about healthcare and treatment, that you let important people know, like your family, friends and general practitioner. This way, you can help to make sure your medical wishes are respected even in an emergency.

Not at this time. You will not be able to register a decision support arrangement with us until the new law is commenced and we are up and running. You can however still make an enduring power of attorney or an advance healthcare directive. You can find out more on our Useful Links page.

Not at this time. We won’t keep a register of decision support arrangements until the new law is commenced and we are up and running. Following commencement, you will be able to search the register if you can show that you have a good reason to. This is referred to as having a ‘legitimate interest’. Approved persons and organisations, like banks, lawyers and healthcare professionals will also be able to search the register.

Yes. You and your decision supporter will need to set up an account with the Decision Support Service before you register a decision-making arrangement. When signing up, we will need you to provide us with your MyGovID, some personal details and contact information. Keep up to date with our Getting Ready page for more information.

If you do not have a person you know and trust who is able to be your decision supporter, the Decision Support Service may be able to provide a decision-making representative from our panel of trained experts. A decision-making representative can only be assigned to you by a court order.

If you need someone to support you to make decisions by helping you to access information and explain it to you, you may be able to contact an advocacy organisation. You can find out more on our Useful Links page.

We have not commenced recruitment for these panels. Keep up to date with our Careers and News and Events pages for more information on becoming one of our panel members.

There will be a fee to register a co-decision-making agreement and an enduring power of attorney. The Department of Justice and Equality will set these fees. There will also be costs relating to an application to court to make a decision-making representation order. Some people may be able to get legal aid to assist them.

Some people may not have to pay a fee, or will pay a lesser fee. This will depend on your individual circumstances, including your income or certain benefits you receive.

If you already have made an Enduring Power of Attorney (under the Powers of Attorney Act 1996) then you can keep that arrangement and it will continue to have legal effect. 

When the new law comes into effect, people will no longer be able to be made a Ward of Court. All current Wards of Court will be reviewed and discharged from wardship within three years. The courts will decide whether or not a current Ward of Court needs a decision supporter.

You do not need a lawyer to make a decision support arrangement. Detailed information on how to make a decision support arrangement will be available on the Decision Support Service website for you to follow. However, if you wish to make an Enduring Power of Attorney under the new law you will need a statement from a lawyer that you understand the arrangement.

A capacity assessment looks at a person’s ability to make a decision for themselves. The assessment used under the new law is called a ‘Functional Test’ for capacity. This means the assessment is about a specific decision that needs to be made at a specific time. You can’t just make a blanket assessment that a person has no capacity.

Applying the functional test, a person can be said to lack capacity to make a decision if they can’t do one of the following:

  • Understand information relevant to the decision,
  • Retain that information long enough to make a voluntary choice,
  • Use or weigh up that information as part of the process of making the decision,
  • Communicate their decision in whatever way they communicate (not only verbally).

Under the new law, everyone is presumed to have capacity at all times. In some circumstances there may be a good reason to question a person’s capacity to make a certain decision. The person who requires the decision to be made will often be the best person to do the capacity assessment. This could be a lawyer, doctor, or a person working at a bank.

Under the new law, there are also limited circumstances where the capacity assessment has to be undertaken by healthcare professionals. This is during the process of registering a co-decision-making agreement or enduring power of attorney.