Hiqa chief executive calls for urgent regulation of home care

Home inspections would not be needed as regulation would apply to service provider

Hiqa’s chief executive Phelim Quinn pointed out most older people and people with a disability wish to remain at home. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Hiqa’s chief executive Phelim Quinn pointed out most older people and people with a disability wish to remain at home. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Home care services need to be regulated urgently to avoid vulnerable people being placed at risk in their own homes, according to the State’s health watchdog.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) says the safety and quality of health and social care cannot be guaranteed in the absence of independent regulation.

Such regulation should be assigned to the service provided rather than the physical location of care, it says in a submission to the Government’s consultation on home care. This would mean those receiving home care would not have to open their homes to inspection.

The Government is currently considering whether to introduce a statutory scheme for funding home care, such as exists for nursing home care. However, the sector is largely unregulated at present and and this would have to change.

Any decision about older people making a financial contribution to their home care is a policy one “based on the ongoing availability of Government funding,” Hiqa said.

In addressing the consultation question on people making a financial contribution to homecare provision, Hiqa believes that this is a policy decision based on the ongoing availability of Government funding.

Most older people and people with a disability wish to remain at home, where possible, Hiqa’s chief executive Phelim Quinn pointed out.

“Currently, most people have no choice but to be admitted to institutional care when they are no longer in a position to care for themselves. There is currently no system in place to ensure that vulnerable people are receiving safe and high-quality care in the home setting.”

Access to home care services is inconsistent across the country and often dependent on the availability of funding, according to Hiqa. Placing services on a statutory footing would give people an entitlement but this would have to be based on a transparent and standardised assessment process.

An assessment of financial means should form part of a single assessment exercise to ensure transparency in respect of the threshold at which individual contributions to care should commence, it said.