Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (797)

Catherine Murphy


797. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the estimated cost of setting up the decision support service; the funds available; the areas the funds are earmarked for; the initial estimated staff complement; the estimated staff complement when fully operational; the specialist staff which will need to be recruited; if the timeline for setting up the service is dependent on additional Exchequer funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32793/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 provides a modern statutory framework to support decision-making by adults with capacity difficulties. The Act was signed into law on 30 December 2015 but has not yet been fully commenced.  The Act provides for the establishment of new administrative processes and support measures, including the setting up of the Decision Support Service within the Mental Health Commission (a body under the Department of Health). 

As regards funding made available by my Department, the 2018 Budget provided for an allocation of €3 million for the Decision Support Service in a new subhead D. 10 of the Justice and Equality Vote.  €2.111 million of the 2018 allocation was drawn down.  €3.5 million has been allocated for the Decision Support Service for 2019. The expenditure requirements for the Decision Support Service for 2020 are being evaluated in the context of the Estimates process that is currently under way.

I am advised by the Mental Health Commission that there are currently seven persons employed by the Mental Health Commission to operationalise the Decision Support Service, including the Director of the Decision Support Service. These staff are supported by the Mental Health Commission's Corporate Operations function. Significant work has been done by the Mental Health Commission on the detailed scoping and design of services to be provided by the Decision Support Service. This will inform the required staff complement when fully operational, including any specialist staff.

The Decision Support Service is working towards being operational and ready for the commencement of the main provisions of the 2015 Act in 2020.  The Deputy will appreciate that a lead in timeframe is needed to ensure that the necessary staff resources, processes, IT system, expert panels, codes of practice and regulations will be in place so that the Decision Support Service will have the capacity to be up and running effectively.

Question No. 798 answered with Question No. 796.