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A joint group, comprising HIQA and the HSE’s Social Care Division, was established in July 2015 to provide a forum for an “information-sharing approach” in matters of service compliance, quality and safety, relating to the regulation of residential services for older persons and persons with a disability.
The meetings, which take place on average every two months, are co-chaired by HIQA’s Chief Inspector of Social Services/Director of Regulation and the HSE’s Head of Operations — Disability Services.
In a letter to HIQA CEO Mr Phelim Quinn, Mr Breslin wrote about the need to guarantee long-stay residential services for older people are maintained, particularly in the context of the increasing number of older people in Ireland, and that services provided in these facilities are at the required standard.
In this context, Mr Breslin noted revised policy and legislation was brought forward in 2016 to secure the continued operation of existing long-stay public beds to the end of 2021.
He added that as part of this process, a capital investment programme was developed and committed to by the Government, which provides an enhanced programme to replace, upgrade and refurbish care facilities to bring them in line with regulatory requirements, having regard to the scheduled funding available in the capital envelope.
“Significant work was undertaken to determine the most appropriate scheduling of projects within the phased provision of funding to achieve compliance with national standards,” according to the letter.
“By the end of 2016, I understand that 14 projects were completed and a further 12 are expected to be operational by the end of this year.”
Mr Breslin stated that there was very good engagement between HIQA and the Department of Health last year.
“As part of this high-level engagement, formal structures were established to provide an environment where the HSE and HIQA could engage bilaterally on an ongoing and collaborative basis to address matters of mutual interest,” according to Mr Breslin.
“It is important that these structures are utilised effectively and I would urge both parties to engage effectively and make full use of this vehicle to deal with issues in a committed and cost-effective way.”
A spokesperson for the Department stated to the Medical Independent that the letter from the Secretary General was issued following discussions between the Department, HIQA and the HSE in the context of revised policy and legislation concerning the provision of public residential beds for older people.
A similar letter was issued to HSE Director General Mr Tony O’Brien, the spokesperson confirmed.