National Consultation –

Draft Codes of Practice on Advance Healthcare Directives

March 2018

Advance Healthcare Directives have been introduced into Irish law as part of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015.

Any person aged 18 and over who has decision-making capacity can make an Advance Healthcare Directive. The Advance Healthcare Directive will come into effect when they lack decision-making capacity to make healthcare treatment decisions for themselves. The Advance Healthcare Directive will provide health and social care professionals with important information about a person’s healthcare treatment choices. It will also enable a person to be treated according to his or her own ‘will and preferences’ even when he or she no longer has decision-making capacity to make decisions. A person’s ‘will and preferences’ are their wishes, views, beliefs and values.

There is no obligation to make an Advance Healthcare Directive. The person making the Advance Healthcare Directive can refuse healthcare treatment in advance. Their Advance Healthcare Directive must clearly identify the type of healthcare treatment that they wish to refuse and the circumstances under which healthcare treatment will be refused.

A person can appoint a ‘Designated Healthcare Representative’ who is a trusted person chosen by them to ensure that the terms of the Advance Healthcare Directive are complied with when s/he no longer can make these decisions for him or herself. The Designated Healthcare Representative can provide direction to Health and Social Care Professionals in relation to healthcare treatment decisions as specified in the person’s Advance Healthcare Directive. They can also consent and refuse treatment on behalf of the person if this has been specified in their Advance Healthcare Directive.

A person cannot include requests in their Advance Healthcare Directive which are criminal acts in Irish Law including euthanasia or assisted suicide.

An Advance Healthcare Directives Multidisciplinary Working Group has been established under the Act by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, T.D. to prepare draft codes of practice in relation to the Advance Healthcare Directive provisions contained in the Act.

Three Draft Codes of Practice have been developed as follows:-

  1. A Draft Code of Practice for Health and Social Care Professionals on Advance Healthcare Directives
  2. A Draft Code of Practice on how to make an Advance Healthcare Directive
  3. A Draft Code of Practice for Designated Healthcare Representatives

We would like to hear your views and feedback on the three Draft Codes of Practice. We welcome feedback from individuals, groups and organisations. As the Draft Codes of Practice are interlinked it would be very beneficial if you could give feedback on all three draft codes.

We would appreciate if you could disseminate this information to your  colleagues and through your internal communication processes including websites, email, newsletters and through your social media sources so that it reaches as many people as possible.

A short questionnaire has been developed to help you provide feedback. Click here to find out more about the consultation.

The closing date for feedback is the Friday May 4th 2018. 

On completion of the consultation, a final version of the Draft Codes of Practice will be submitted to the Director of the Decision Support Service, Ms Áine Flynn for consideration. The Director of the Decision Support Service will, in consultation with the Mental Health Commission, the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Health, have the final decision on the content of the Draft Codes.

Further details and progress updates will be available at www.assisteddecisionmaking.ie

Please contact Marie Tighe or Jacqueline Grogan at adm@hse.ie  if you have any queries or need more information.