We regulate and inspect residential services in order to protect vulnerable people of all ages who are receiving residential care services and to ensure that these people are receiving an appropriate standard and quality of service.

Inspections can be announced or unannounced and may take place at day or night:

  • to monitor continuing compliance with regulations and standards
  • following a change in circumstances (such as a new person in charge)
  • arising from a number of events, including information affecting the safety and well-being of residents.

To find out more about the different types of inspections and how our inspectors make their decisions, read our guidance on the inspection process.

How we make our decisions

We have adopted a common approach to inspecting and making judgments.

This common approach is informed by our Assessment Framework  and our Judgment Framework . These documents seek to provide assurance that our work is both transparent and consistent. They are publicly available so everyone can see that we make our decisions in a fair and consistent way.

The assessment framework outlines the key questions inspectors should ask, the evidence that should be gathered and lines of enquiry that should be followed. In turn, the Judgment Framework outlines the degree to which an aspect of the service may be deemed by HIQA to be non-compliant with regulations and or National Standards — be it a major non-compliance, a moderate non-compliance or substantially in compliance.

Thematic inspections

The themed approach to inspection encourages and facilitates improvement within residential services for older people.

As part of these thematic inspections, we have produced self-assessment questionnaires and regulatory guidance for nursing home providers. Each thematic inspection is unannounced and carried out over one day. Inspection reports are produced and published for each of the inspections. Practice guidance and self-assessment tools, designed to assist providers to measure their performance and identify areas for improvement are also provided.

Food Nutrition Guidance and Self-assessment questionnaire

End of Life Guidance and Self-assessment questionnaire

Dementia Care

We have commenced a thematic inspection programme on Dementia Care.

The relevant guidance, self-assessment tool, and assessment and judgement frameworks can be accessed here.

During the inspection

The inspector will make observations about the premises, the care provided, how the residents’ privacy, dignity and autonomy is respected and promoted

The inspector will be happy to speak with any resident, family member, representative or staff member; and will also understand that some residents and relatives may not want to talk with an inspector.

The inspector will also send out resident and family questionnaires to the centre before announced inspections take place. This is to allow residents and their relatives to provide feedback to HIQA should they wish to do so. Throughout the inspection process, the inspector will be required to act in line with our Code of conduct for inspectors and our Code of Business conduct.  Where concerns arise, we encourage services to inform us as soon as possible.

After the inspection

Inspection reports guide members of the public in choosing centres on the basis of sound, unbiased evidence, as all our inspection reports are published without fear or favour on our website. Inspection reports also assure the public on standards of care in centres.