The Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act is due to be commenced in late 2016. Once in force, this legislation will impact on policy and practice for people with dementia and their families.The Alzheimer Society of Ireland has a policy position paper detailing the key elements of the legislation.
The full act is available here. The Alzheimer Society of Ireland played a significant advocacy role, since the Irish Bill on capacity was published in 2013, to ensure that the proposed legislation improves the situation of people with dementia.
ASI has drawn on a unique combination of dementia advocacy experience, knowledge of international best practice relating to dementia, and the collective experience of people who use our services and of staff and volunteers about the day-to-day issues facing people with dementia and their families.
ASI made a number of submissions to the Department of Justice and Equality and participated in a collaborative working group led by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway (previously led by Amnesty International). This working group developed a set of guiding principles for legislators called Essential Principles: Irish Legal Capacity Law which oultines what needs to happen to deliver human rights based legislation.
ASI also made representations regarding Advance Healthcare Directives (AHDs), which are a core part of the legislation, as well as leading out on a collaborative submission on AHDs with other ageing organisations.
Overall, the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 provides a modern statutory framework supporting decision-making by adults who have difficulty in making decisions unaided. It repeals the Marriage of Lunatics Act 1811 and cause the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 to cease to have effect. The Act provides for the replacement of the Wards of Court system for adults, which is the existing mechanism for managing the affairs of persons whose capacity is impaired, with a range of legal options on a continuum of intervention levels to support people in maximising their decision-making capability. It is also is a key step in enabling ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act will have significant implications for health and social care providers in the provision of safe person-centred care based on respecting the individual rights of each person. In response to these implications the HSE is establishing a National Assisted Decision Making Steering Group to develop a programmatic response to the legislation to ensure effective compliance and implementation. More information on the HSE developments in this area can be found here.
The Citizens Information Board have produced a special edition of their journal outlining core aspects of the Act. It can be sourced here.