Press Release

New Draft National Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People published

The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, T.D., today published the draft National Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People. The standards will apply to all residential settings (public, private and voluntary) where older people are cared for and for which registration is required. The draft standards are based on legislation, research findings and best practice.

The Minister said “These draft standards will provide the basis for the very best quality of care to be provided and monitored and enforced in all nursing homes. They will be an objective and transparent way for both care providers and inspectors to implement and enforce standards of care for nursing home residents.

I am pleased to publish them today and formally hand them over to the interim Authority (iHIQA) to handle the consultation process and the finalisation of the standards.

I said yesterday in the Dáil that the preparatory work is being done by iHIQA, so that as soon as the legislation is enacted, we will be ready to implement new and better standards for nursing home residents. The finalisation of standards is a key part of the necessary preparation. ”

iHIQA is establishing a Working Group to oversee a public consultation on the draft standards and finalise them over the coming months. The first meeting of the Group takes place next Tuesday, 30th January.

Yesterday, the Minister commenced the Second Stage Debate on the Health Bill 2007. This provides for the establishment of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) on a statutory basis. It also provides for the Authority to set standards.

The present standards for nursing homes are set out in the 1993 Care and Welfare Regulations. They have been amended only twice in respect of issues around fire safety since 1993. The Minister decided that it was appropriate to issue a set of new standards now.

The HSE currently inspects private nursing homes on the basis of the 1993 standards, but public homes are not inspected. The Minister will make Regulations to give statutory effect to the new standards and inspections will then be carried out by the Social Services Inspectorate, as part of HIQA.

The draft standards contain a number of important new initiatives including:
•the preparation of Individual Care Plans for all residents;
•a minimum of 50% of Care staff should have FETAC Level 5 or an equivalent qualification; and
•continuous quality assurance mechanisms to monitor the provision of care.

Read the Draft Document