Director of the Decision Support Service
The Mental Health Commission is required to appoint a Director of the Decision Support Service (DSS) who is tasked with a wide range of legislative functions under the 2015 Act. When appointed, the Director of the DSS will be a member of staff of the Mental Health Commission.
When operational, the Director of the Decision Support Service will supervise and handle complaints against decision-making assistants, co-decision makers, decision-making representatives, attorneys with enduring powers of attorney and designated healthcare representatives. The Director will also prepare Codes of Practice for specific groups to provide guidance in relation to the Act. The Director is responsible for providing information to members of the public about the Act, and for promoting awareness of the new law on capacity. The specific statutory functions of the Director are as follows:
General Functions of the Director
The general functions of the Director of the Decision Support Service are set out in Part 9 of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 as follows:
Regulatory Functions of the Director
The Director has a number of specific regulatory functions under the 2015 Act in respect of six different types of decision-making support arrangements:
- 1. Decision making assistance agreements;
- 2. Co-decision making agreements;
- 3. Decision-making representatives;
- 4. Individuals exercising enduring powers of attorney;
- 5. Advanced healthcare directives;
- 6. Wards of Court who are being transitioned from the Wards of Court system.
The Director may initiate an investigation following receipt of a complaint, or instigate an investigation on his or her own initiative in relation to the conduct of decision-making assistants, co-decision-makers, decision-making representatives and attorneys. In addition, the Director shall receive and consider complaints and allegations in relation to the way in which a designated healthcare representative is exercising his/her powers in relation to advanced healthcare directives.
The Director is granted a variety of powers to enable him or her to undertake the complaints function including the power to summon witnesses, to examine witnesses under oath, to require the production of documents and to require the provision of information that the Director considers necessary to enable him or her to carry out his/her functions.
The Director also has specific regulatory functions in relation to the appointment and supervision of panels of special and general visitors and court friends.
Maintenance and Regulation of a Register of Agreements
A Register of agreements is required to be established and maintained by the Director. Specifically, the Director is required to establish and maintain a Register of co-decision making agreements, decision-making representation orders and enduring powers of attorney. The various agreements to which the registration requirements apply, will not enter into force until they have been reviewed and registered on the centralised Register by the Director. In advance of registration of an agreement, the Director is required to review and examine the accompanying documentation to ensure that they comply with the requirements of the 2015 Act. The Director is required to review the various agreements on a regular periodic basis and to examine requests to vary agreements in accordance with fluctuating capacity or to revoke agreements in specific circumstances.
Financial and Property Management Functions The 2015 Act provides that in certain limited circumstances the Circuit Court may confer on the Director the custody, control and management of some or all of the property of a relevant person which will require financial management processes and procedures. This may occur notwithstanding that there has been a decision-making representative appointed by the Circuit Court.
Financial and Property Management Functions
The 2015 Act provides that in certain limited circumstances the Circuit Court may confer on the Director the custody, control and management of some or all of the property of a relevant person which will require financial management processes and procedures. This may occur notwithstanding that there has been a decision-making representative appointed by the Circuit Court.
Codes of Practice
The 2015 Act provides that the Director shall prepare, publish, request or approve a code of practice developed for the purposes of providing various healthcare and other professionals with guidance for the operation of the legislation, as well as the interveners (decision-making assistants, co-decision makers, decision-making representatives), and specialists appointed by the Director and the Court. The development of the Codes of Practice is required to be accompanied by a consultation process with a variety of organisations and representatives of professional bodies in the healthcare, social care, legal and financial sectors.
Central Authority for the purposes of the operation of the Convention on the International Protection of Adults 2000
The 2015 Act provides that the Director shall act as the Central Authority for the purposes of the operation of the Hague Convention on the International Protection of Adults.
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