Regulation of centres for people with disabilities to start in September


Regulation of residential centres for people with disabilities is likely to start from September 1st, the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has signalled.

From that date, it will no longer be possible to open a residential centre without first registering with the authority, and existing centres will be permitted to operate for a three-year period during which they may be inspected at any time.

Failure to comply with standards may result in action being taken by Hiqa, which can include prosecution and, in situations where there is significant risk to residents, immediate cancellation of the centre’s registration.

The authority has provided further details for service providers and residents of its plans to regulate the sector in an FAQ published on its website,

Holistic view
Hiqa says it takes a holistic view of safety and risk management. “We do not wish to see residents being prevented from living a full life due to overly cautious risk management arrangements. At the same time, negligent behaviour by providers is not acceptable.”

The guidelines clarify the authority’s policy on “restrictive practices” or restraint, both physical and medical. The use of these practices is a “very serious matter”, it says, and while there is no official national policy on the use of restraint in such circumstances, the provider will be required to have clear guidelines in place, grounded in evidence-based research.

Providers are required to provide each individual resident with appropriate life opportunities based on their wishes and interests in a responsible manner. “This should include evidence that risks have been identified and are being managed, and that appropriate levels of support are provided to residents based on each individual resident’s own circumstances.”

In situations where a person is living in their own home but is supported in terms of upkeep or maintenance, the authority says they are not normally subject to regulation. But it adds that there are likely to be situations that are not clear-cut and it will work with all concerned to come to “an appropriate and legally sound decision”.

Respite arrangements are covered by the regulations but some holiday centres may not be registrable, it says.

As with Hiqa regulation of nursing homes, inspection reports will be published.