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At the start of the year, this Act was signed into law which created greater rights for those with a limited capacity to make decisions, whether as a result of a brain injury, disability or illness, such as dementia. The Act sets out tests to determine whether a person has capacity and ensures a person is assumed to have full capacity until it is proved otherwise. This reformed law means Ireland has one of the most modern laws and is a huge change from the previously outdated system.

There are new categories of decision makers. A person over 18 years can appoint an assisted decision maker for their welfare or property decisions, once the appointed person has no history of violence or abuse. A Co-decision maker can be appointed to jointly make the decision with the person of limited capacity and there is a list of 8 types of people who are not eligible to be appointed. The agreement must be registered with the Director of the Decision Support Service, and can be void or changed if required. There is also a complaints procedure and set punishments for offences.

The Act provides protection for the rights of those who are vulnerable. There are provisions for Wards of Court applications, where the court makes decisions on a person’s behalf, and Powers of Attorney, where a person appoints a number of people to act on their behalf should they lose capacity. One of the main changes is that the ‘will and preference’ of the person of limited capacity must now be respected on religiously based health care decisions which may not be the best decision objectively. This new system radically overhauls the old system and creates laws which are modern, respectful and have the best interests of the person with limited capacity at heart.

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