Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the new decision support service as provided for in the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 will become functional; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19767/19]
451. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the introduction of the decision support service; when the service will be fully operational in order to commence the operation of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18595/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 433 and 451 together.
The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 provides a modern statutory framework to support decision-making by adults with capacity difficulties. The Act was signed into law on 30 December 2015 but has not yet been fully commenced. The Act provides for the establishment of new administrative processes and support measures, including the setting up of the Decision Support Service within the Mental Health Commission (a body under the Department of Health).
The Decision Support Service is working towards being operational and ready for the commencement of the main provisions of the 2015 Act in 2020. This lead-in timeframe ensures that the necessary staff resources, processes, IT system, expert panels, codes of practice and regulations will be in place so that the Decision Support Service will have the capacity to be up and running effectively.
A high-level Steering Group comprised of senior officials from the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Health, the Mental Health Commission and the Courts Service, together with the Director of the Decision Support Service, is overseeing the establishment and commissioning of the Decision Support Service and this work is ongoing. There are many complex strands to this work, including involvement of multiple organisations. The 2019 Revised Estimates Volume provides for an allocation of €3.5 million in the Justice and Equality Vote for the establishment of the Decision Support Service.
A number of provisions of the 2015 Act were commenced in October 2016 in order to progress the setting up of the Decision Support Service. The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (Commencement of Certain Provisions) Order 2016 (S.I. No. 515 of 2016) commenced provisions of the Act to enable the recruitment of the Director of the Decision Support Service. Ms Áine Flynn was appointed Director of the Decision Support Service on 2 October 2017.
The commencement of Part 8 of the Act, which provides a legislative framework for advance healthcare directives, is a matter for the Minister for Health. On 17 October 2016 the Minister for Health established a multidisciplinary working group to assist in the development and preparation of the code of practice for the AHD provisions of the Act. The role of the working group is to prepare a detailed series of recommendations for the Director of the Decision Support Service in relation to codes of practice. In anticipation of the completion of that process, the Minister for Health commenced the remainder of section 91 on 17 December 2018 (S.I. No. 527 of 2018).
The key preparations are being put in place under the oversight of the Steering Group to allow for further commencement orders for the provisions of the 2015 Act to be made when the Decision Support Service is ready to roll out the new decision-making support options.