Advanced Healthcare Directives – Update

30 October 2020

older man

Yes, your capacity is limited, which got me thinking to issues regarding capacity and the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015. I happened to be looking back on a lecture that I attended on advanced healthcare directives from a course I did in the Law Society in July 2018. Fiona Morrissey of NUI Galway did a lecture on Advance Healthcare Directives (AHDs). (These are where you get an opportunity to specify your treatment requirements in the event you lack capacity and require medical treatments). In Ms Morrissey’s lecture she noted that AHDs were likely to be the first item of the legislation to be implemented and it was expected at that time that AHDs would operative by then end of 2019. Well that ship has sailed!!

You might be aware that under the 2015 Act codes of practice are envisaged for a range of topics to include AHDs. I made contact with the Director of Decision Support Service about this topic recently. The code of practice for AHDs is in draft form and is being considered at the moment. The office of the DSS indicated to me that they hoped to send the Codes of Practice out for public consultation in 2021!. While its not immediately apparent but it would seem that commencement of AHDs could only take place once the code of practice has been finalised. So AHDs seem a long way off yet.

If you are interested in this topic, there has been some excellent lectures recently available at You will see that there is a reference to the webinars that the HSE has been running on the topic which are very informative. You can register on there for future webinars.