The Decision Support Service

The Decision Support Service is a new service established under the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015. This Act repeals the Marriage of Lunatics Bill 1811 and the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Bill 1871  The Decision Support Service is part of the Mental Health Commission but will have a new and separate role which includes to:

  • regulate and register decision support arrangements
  • supervise the actions of decision supporters
  • maintain a panel of experts who will act as decision-making representatives, special and general visitors, and court friends
  • investigate complaints made under the 2015 Act
  • promote awareness and provide information about the 2015 Act

The Decision Support Service offers five distinct decision support arrangements designed to assist individuals with capacity challenges in making certain decisions. Under these arrangements, an individual can be designated as a decision supporter, granting them authority to provide support on matters concerning personal welfare, property, and finances, based on the type of decision support arrangement in place.

There are three types of decision supporters available for individuals facing challenges with decision-making:

  • decision-making assistants
  • co-decision-makers
  • decision-making representatives

Additionally, two types of decision supporters are available for individuals who wish to plan ahead for potential future capacity challenges:

The role and responsibilities of each decision supporter will depend on the specific decision support arrangement in place. A decision-making assistant, for instance, can assist a person with making decisions by providing them with information and helping them understand their options. In contrast, a co-decision-maker works alongside the person, jointly making decisions with them.

A decision-making representative, on the other hand, makes decisions on behalf of the person they are supporting. This type of supporter is appointed only when there are no other options available to help the person make decisions.

Designated healthcare representatives (see vide below for more details) can make decisions on behalf of an individual if they are unable to do so themselves, but only with regard to their healthcare needs. In contrast, attorneys can make decisions on behalf of the person regarding both their health and personal welfare, as well as their financial and property matters.

The Decision Support Service plays a crucial role in ensuring that individuals who face challenges with decision-making receive the necessary support to make decisions that are in their best interests. The various decision support arrangements available offer a flexible and tailored approach to decision-making, based on the unique needs and circumstances of each individual.   

Remember that 'next of kin' does not have any legal authority or responsibility to make decisions or give consent on behalf of a person, unless they have been legally appointed to do so.              

Video Decision Support Services Seminar: What it means in practice

 In October 2017, Áine Flynn was appointed Director of the Decision Support Service

under the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015.

Ms Flynn explains the important legal implications of the ACT.

To better view understand video content choose either to watch in full screen or select to 'watch on Youtube'


The Decision Support Service website is now live and contains details of services offered, resources and contact details. Step by step guides and videos are also provided  on how to setup your own account or MyDSS portal. You are strongly advised to visit the website to understand how to access the services offered by the DSS

Click to Access the DSS website