Press Release

Tánaiste launches ‘National Quality Care for Nursing Homes’ developed by Excellence Ireland Quality Association (EIQA)

The Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD, today (25th May) launched the document ‘National Quality Care for Nursing Homes’ on behalf of Excellence Ireland Quality Association (EIQA).

The Tánaiste emphasised the importance of providing supports, where necessary to enable older people to maintain their health and well being, to have active and full lives in an independent way in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. The Tánaiste added that when this is no longer possible, it is important that older people have access to the best possible residential care available, whether it is in a general hospital, community nursing unit or private nursing home. Government policy on older people is based on this wish.

The Tánaiste said that her Department has been working on two important areas which will have a significant impact on the operation of all residential care for older people.

The first is the Health Bill, 2006 which provides for the establishment of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) and the Office of the Chief Inspector of Social Services, as an office within HIQA, on a statutory basis.

Secondly, a Working Group has been established by the Department to develop the standards for residential care settings for older people. Membership of the Group comprises officials from the Department, the Health Service Executive, the Social Services Inspectorate and the Irish Health Service Accreditation Board. The Group has commenced the development of standards for the inspection of both public and private residential care for older people. A draft document is nearing completion and will be circulated to interested and appropriate parties in the Summer. In addition, the Irish Health Services Accreditation Board has developed accreditation standards which are voluntary for both public and private residential care for older people. These will be introduced once national standards are established. The IHSAB and the DoHC are in ongoing consultation in relation to national and accreditation standards.

The Tánaiste went on to say that while the Department of Health and Children is working to put in place a more robust regulatory system as quickly as possible to protect vulnerable older people and to provide for the highest standards of care for older people in long stay facilities, that any initiative that seeks to improve standards in nursing homes and the quality of care provided is very much welcomed. She thanked EIQA for the work that they have completed in this area and congratulated those who had reached the standard set down by EIQA and acknowledged the good work carried out across the Nursing Home sector.