The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 in Ireland is a law designed to support people who may have difficulty making decisions. Here’s a simplified breakdown:
1. Supporting Decision-Making: The Act recognizes that some people might need help to make decisions. This could be due to an illness, disability, or condition that affects their decision-making abilities.
2. Replacing Outdated Systems: Before this Act, the only option for those who couldn’t make decisions was to be declared a “ward of court”, a very restrictive and outdated system. The 2015 Act provides more flexible, supportive alternatives.
3. Decision-Making Assistance Agreement: This is a formal agreement where someone chooses a person they trust (a decision-making assistant) to help them understand, make, and express their decisions.
4. Co-Decision-Making Agreement: If someone needs more help than just assistance, they can enter into a co-decision-making agreement. Here, they make decisions jointly with a trusted person (a co-decision maker).
5. Decision-Making Representative: In cases where someone can’t make certain types of decisions at all, the court can appoint a decision-making representative. This person is authorized to make decisions on their behalf, but must do so in a way that respects the person’s will and preferences.
6. Advance Healthcare Directives: The Act allows people to make plans for their future healthcare. People can outline what medical treatments they would or wouldn’t want if they can’t make these decisions later.
7. Office of the Public Guardian: This part of the Act sets up an office that will supervise and support the appointed decision-making assistants, co-decision-makers, and representatives.
8. Ending Wardship: The Act provides a pathway to end the wardship system and transition those currently under it to more suitable arrangements under the new law.
In essence, the Act is about respecting people’s rights to make their own decisions as much as possible and providing the necessary support to do so. It’s a step towards more dignity, autonomy, and respect for individuals facing challenges in decision-making.