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‘Considerable number’ of centres won’t be compliant – HIQA

HIQA’s Director of Regulation has said there will be a “considerable number” of designated centres in the disability and older persons’ sectors that will not be compliant with capital-related requirements, which will have a direct impact on the quality and safety of services.

Ms Mary Dunnion told a HIQA board meeting in March, the minutes of which were seen by the Medical Independent (MI), that if the Office of the Chief Inspector does not take enforcement action, then the Office “is not applying the regulations appropriately as is required by the Health Act”.

Earlier in the meeting, Deputy Chief Inspector for Disability Services Mr Finbarr Colder and Deputy Chief Inspector for Older Persons Services Ms Susan Cliffe joined Ms Dunnion to outline the challenges in maintaining and granting renewal registration in these services, arising from regulatory non-compliance.

It was explained that the deadline for the registration of disability centres was extended for two years to October 2018 to allow providers more time to become compliant with regulations, as there was recognition that there was “considerable work required of the sector in this regard”.

“This included addressing issues of privacy and dignity of residents, overcrowding in centres and fire upgrade works,” according to the minutes.

In relation to nursing home, Ms Cliffe explained that a change of Government policy in 2016 resulted in extending the timeframe to 2021 to allow providers to come into compliance with the regulations.

A national capital investment plan was published in 2016, which was to provide for the refurbishment or replacement of approximately 90 centres.

Ms Cliffe stated that approximately half of these centres will not have the required capital works implemented by 2021.

In addition, there were seven centres that could not currently be registered due to poor regulatory compliance and a decision was due to be made on these in the near future.

The board observed that, in line with HIQA’s overall object of promoting quality and safety in health and social care services, this matter should be discussed with the Minister for Health Simon Harris during his next meeting with the Chairperson Mr Pat O’Mahony.

It was also emphasised by the board that a strategy and policy for addressing these concerns must be formed.

“It was noted that this matter has been raised with the DoH [Department of Health] and the HSE throughout 2018 and in early 2019.”

In addition, a former position paper was being drafted at the time to be submitted to the Department setting out instances of regulatory non-compliance, the impact on the lives of residents, and the regulatory actions that will be required. 

A spokesperson for the Department told MI they could not comment on the board minutes of an independent body.

“All facilities which are designated centres (both nursing homes in relation to older peoples services and residential centres in relation to disability services) are subject to inspection by HIQA,” said the spokesperson.  “HIQA’s disability inspection team is legally responsible for the monitoring, inspection and registration of designated centres for adults and children with a disability.”  ll(),b=0;

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