Assisted Decision Making

What is the Decision Support Service?

The Decision Support Service is a new service for all adults who have difficulties with their decision-making capacity. The Decision Support Service is a public body established within the Mental Health Commission by the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015.

What is the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015?

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act was signed into law in December 2015. The Act recognises that, as far as possible, all adults have the right to play an active role in decisions that affect them. These decisions can be about their personal welfare and property and affairs.

The 2015 Act brings about important changes for people who require support to make decisions and for anyone interacting with them.

The 2015 Act:

  • Introduced new guiding principles about interacting with a person who has difficulties with their decision-making capacity.
  • Established a tiered system of decision support arrangements for people who need help with making decisions
  • Abolished the current wardship system and requires all wards of court to be discharged from wardship within three years of 26 April 2023.
  • Established the Decision Support Service

Who needs the Decision Support Service?

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, dementia or acquired brain injury, as well as people with age-related conditions. 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.

Decision-making capacity is about being able to decide about a particular thing at the time that you need to decide it.

Decision-making capacity is assessed in a way that is called a functional assessment. Decision-making capacity means being able to:

  • Understand the information about that decision
  • Remember the information long enough to make that decision
  • Use the information to make that decision, and
  • Tell others about the decision you made

Guiding Principles

These are rules provided by the Act which decision supporters and others must follow.

These are some of the guiding principles:

  • It is presumed that every adult can make their own decisions
  • A person must be given all the help they need so that they can make their own decisions
  • A person’s will and preference must be respected
  • Will and preference mean what the person would want for themselves
  • If a person wants to make a decision that seems unwise, that does not mean they are unable to make that decision
  • We must respect a person’s right to decide what happens to them, their body, and their property
  • Act in good faith and forthe benefit of the person

More information is available from

Check out this information leaflet: Decision Support Service Information

Tel: 01 211 9750