HIQA warns lack of regulation is placing vulnerable people at risk

It says regulation should apply to the service, not the location

Newstalk, over 50s, elderly, pensioner, ESRI, downsize

Picture by: John Stillwell / PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) wants to see homecare services regulated in Ireland "as a matter of priority".

In a submission to a public consultation from the the Department of Health, HIQA says the safety and quality of health and social care cannot be guaranteed.

It says in the absence of independent regulation, vulnerable people are being placed at risk in their own homes.

HIQA CEO Phelim Quinn said: "The majority of older people and people with a disability wish to remain in the comfort and safety of own homes and communities, where possible.

"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.

"It is clear that we, as a society, need to consider viable alternatives to long-term residential care that respect an individual’s right to choice, privacy, dignity and safety."

A national opinion poll conducted by HIQA in May 2017 showed that 76% of people surveyed believed homecare services for older and vulnerable people are independently regulated - however, this is not the case.

While 90% believed professional services provided in the home should be regulated by an independent body.

Mr Quinn added: "There is currently no system in place to ensure that vulnerable people are receiving safe and high-quality care in the home setting.

"All people under the care of the State have the right to receive the best possible care and to be protected from abuse, regardless of whether they live in a residential centre or in their own homes.

"Regulation should apply to the service being provided rather than to the physical location.

"This would mean that that all service providers would be required to meet legally-binding homecare standards as set by an independent national regulator, reassuring people receiving care, and their loved ones, that the care being delivered is safe and of a high quality."