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IHF calls for urgent Government action to commence legislation to replace 1871 Lunacy Regulations

Thursday 28 November 2019

The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) is again calling on the Government to progress vital amendments to the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (ADMA) and to then commence it as a matter of urgency.

Commenting ahead of a seminar on the ADMA being hosted (today and tomorrow) by the Decision Support Service and the HSE at University College Cork, Angela Edghill, Advocacy Manager at the IHF said: “The ADMA was drafted from a human rights perspective and informed by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is a progressive piece of legislation. We are now approaching the fourth anniversary of the passage of the Act and most of it remains inactive.  This causes confusion and uncertainty for the public and legal, health and social care professionals alike. Until the ADMA comes into effect many of our citizens continue to have their decisions mediated by the provisions of the Lunacy Regulations of 1871. This is totally unacceptable and leaves people facing very difficult situations, personally and professionally. What is needed is political and legislative action.”

Also speaking in Cork today, Deirdre Shanagher, IHF National Development Manager said. “The ADMA’s commencement will bring both choice and challenge to our citizens and to the legal, health and social care professionals as well as service providers in advance care planning and in the recognition of advance healthcare directives (AHD).  But it will provide certainty.”

“Health and social care professionals will need support if they are to engage and fully implement advance healthcare planning, including the acknowledgement of and respect for AHDs. This work is already well underway by the HSE and the Director of Decision Support Services. It will be supported by public engagement to help people understand the implications of the Act.”

When the ADMA is fully commenced a formal register of AHDs will be critical to its success. Also critical is that doctors and their patients engage in discussions about their future care –via advance care planning.  This should include the making of an AHD if that is the patient’s wish.  That can only be of benefit to all in the event that the patient is unable to speak for themselves and may help to ease the decision-making burden in a time of crisis.

The IHF encourages everyone to think about, discuss and record their preferences for end-of-life care and treatment. We call on the Government to similarly encourage, support and enable its citizens to plan ahead and to exercise their rights in this area – and give clarity and certainty to health and social care professionals – by amending and commencing the ADMA immediately. Then, we can all get on with the business of living.