HIQA shows regulation improves safety and quality of life for people with disabilities

HIQA shows regulation improves safety and quality of life for people with disabilities

HIQA shows regulation improves safety and quality of life for people with disabilities

Date of publication:

Tuesday, 23 July, 2019

Regulation of Ireland’s disability sector has had a positive impact on the lives of people who receive services, according to a new report by the Heath Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).
Data from the first five years of regulation shows improvements in levels of compliance year-on-year, with overall compliance with all regulations inspected increasing from 59% in year 1 to 76% by year 5.

Mary Dunnion, HIQA’s Director of Regulation and Chief Inspector of Social Services, said: “When HIQA commenced the regulation of residential services for people with disabilities on 1 November 2013, it was the first time such services were subject to independent regulation. Our findings in the first few years were reflective of a sector that was not initially prepared for regulation, with some services providing good services, and poor practice and low levels of compliance evident in others.

“Over the past five years, however, regulation has driven improvements in these services through monitoring, inspections and enforcement action. In particular, our inspection findings show that residents’ rights and dignity are better promoted, and their social care needs are now being met in most cases. Residents regularly tell us how these improvements have positively impacted their lives. For example, moving to houses nearer their families, going on holidays or to concerts, working in their local communities and having more control over what they do on a daily basis.”

Notwithstanding these improvements, significant challenges remain regarding the management and oversight of services, addressing infrastructural deficits and safeguarding vulnerable people.

Ms Dunnion continued: “The governance arrangements in some centres have continually failed to ensure there is adequate oversight of the quality and safety of the service. There are also ongoing challenges for some providers in achieving a safe and high-quality living environment for residents.

“While regulation has brought about increased awareness of the rights of people with disabilities, safeguarding issues continue to be regularly raised by our inspectors. Better protections need to be put in place to safeguard residents from abuse and to extend the protections offered by regulation to other vulnerable people. We await the Minister for Health’s approval of the National Standards for Adult Safeguarding, developed by HIQA and the Mental Health Commission.  

“In addition, the introduction of specific legislation would ensure a legal basis to safeguard people who live in residential care. In supporting this, HIQA is a member of the Department of Health’s steering group to inform the development of the Health Sector Adult Safeguarding Policy and is a member of Safeguarding Ireland.

“Similarly, we believe that the model of regulation in Ireland needs to be reviewed and expanded to ensure that all people who receive a health or social care package, either in a service or in their home, receive consistently good quality support that is underpinned by regulations.”

The report, Five years of regulation in designated centres for people with a disability, and infographic can be found at the link at the bottom.

For further information, please contact:
Marty Whelan, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, HIQA
(01) 8147480 or 086 2447623

Notes to Editor:

  • HIQA regulates designated centres for people with disabilities against the Health Act 2007 (as amended), associated regulations and nationally mandated standards. Regulation sets the minimum level of service a person can expect to receive.
  • From 1 November 2013 to 31 October 2018, inspectors conducted 3,829 inspections of designated centres for people with disabilities.
  • By 31 October 2018, there were 1,183 centres for people with disabilities registered with HIQA, providing 8,894 residential places for adults and children.
  • Data from inspection findings and improvements in compliance in disability services are outlined in graphs and case studies throughout HIQA’s overview report.
  • HIQA published Exploring the regulation of health and social care services — Disability services in May 2017 which outlines the various models of care and support in Ireland which are not subject to regulations, and how other jurisdictions regulate such services. Read it here.
  • In 2019, HIQA commenced a new thematic inspection programme focusing on the use of restrictive practices to drive quality improvement for residents living in services. Going forward HIQA will lead on driving continuous quality improvements beyond the basic regulations in residents’ lives.


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