I propose to take Questions Nos. 610 and 611 together.
The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 provides a modern statutory framework to support decision-making by adults with capacity difficulties. 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).
I am advised that the commencement of the main provisions of the 2015 Act is expected to take place next year.
A number of the provisions of the 2015 Act have already commenced including Part 1 (excluding sections 3, 4 and 7) and Part 9 (excluding sections 96 and 102 and Chapter 3). These provisions were commenced to progress the establishment of the Decision Support Service and the recruitment of its Director, Ms. Áine Flynn. Ms. Flynn was appointed in October 2017.
The Decision Support Service is working towards being operational and ready for the commencement of the main provisions of the 2015 Act next year. As I am sure the Deputy will appreciate, there are many complex strands to this preparatory work, including the involvement of multiple organisations. I am advised that this lead in time is required to ensure the necessary staff resources, processes, IT system, expert panels, codes of practice and regulations will be in place to ensure the Decision Support Service is established effectively. A high-level Steering Group of senior officials from my Department, the Department of Health, the Mental Health Commission and the Courts Service, together with the Director of the Decision Support Service, is overseeing this on-going work.
Certain provisions of Part 8 of the Act related to advanced healthcare directives have also been commenced by my colleague, the Minister for Health.