New inspection standards unveiled
Vulnerable people will be protected from neglect and abuse under new standards launched by the health watchdog, it is claimed.
The residential homes of 9,500 children and adults with disabilities will be inspected by officials from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) for the first time later this year.
The new national standards outline what the Health Service Executive, private organisations and charities must do to ensure safe and effective care is being given to people living in, or using, residential and respite services, Hiqa said.
Marie Kehoe O'Sullivan, director of safety and quality, said the measures will protect residents from neglect and abuse.
She told those who care for the disabled that the standards were aimed at setting expectations for adults, children and their families nationwide.
"We are here to help you, we are here to support," she said at the launch in the Mansion House in Dublin. "It's not a stick to hit you with."
An estimated 9,500 people with disabilities live in some 1,200 residential services across the country.
There will be a total of 60 new standards - 30 for children with disabilities and 30 for adults with disabilities - under eight themes including individualised supports and care, safe services, and health and development.
Phelim Quinn, Hiqa's director of regulation, said the publication of the standards was a landmark moment for disability services in Ireland. "Children and adults using residential services have the right to be safe, to receive good care and support and to have access to the services they need to enable them to live a fulfilling life," he added.
All services providing residential services for people with disabilities in Ireland will have to be registered with Hiqa, whose inspectors will start visiting homes in September.