HIQA to develop Overarching National Standards for the Care and Support of Children using health and social care services

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority has today announced that it is to develop an overarching set of national standards for the care and support of children using health and social care services. This is the first time a set of standards that focuses on the needs of a whole population across health and social care services has been developed by HIQA. The standards will set out the responsibilities of both health and social care providers when they are working to care for and support children.

HIQA recognises the importance of increasing the quality and safety of care and support for all children when they are using health and social care services provided by statutory agencies such as the HSE and Tusla. In 2018, HIQA committed to the development of National Standards for Children’s Social Services. During the development of these standards, it became evident to HIQA that there was an opportunity to develop an overarching set of national standards to support improvements in all health and social care services working with children. These overarching standards have the potential to improve the experience of all children using health and social care services, by promoting clarity, consistency and continuity within and between services, and to focus services on the child first, rather than on the individual service needs. These standards, written from the perspective of a child, will help health and social care services to plan for and deliver high quality child-centred services.

Rachel Flynn, Director of Health Information and Standards said, “All children have a right to be safe, to have timely access to appropriate services and support, and to maximise their wellbeing and development. There is an opportunity to improve the coordination and delivery of health and social care services by developing an overarching set of standards for all of these services that work with children. These standards will ensure that there is a focus on the whole child, not just the needs that they are presenting with. This will ensure that the interests of the child are put first, above individual service requirements and will promote a consistent, child-centred approach to service delivery.

“It is recognised that additional support in the form of standards or guidance may be required in the future to assist disability services, mental health, primary care or acute services to implement the standards. It is anticipated that the need for any additional standards or guidance will emerge after the overarching standards have been in place for a period of time. These will be aligned to the principles set out in the overarching standards. Evidence for taking this approach can be found in Scotland, where overarching standards for all health and social care services were developed and quality frameworks for individual service settings were developed following the implementation of the standards, when services could identify gaps in implementation” she added.

HIQA recognises that while national standards are one component that will improve consistency for children, in order for the standards to be effective, national policy and structures to support effective interagency working are also required.

For further information contact:
Marty Whelan, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement,
085 805 5202

Notes to the editor:
To inform the development of these new standards, HIQA will now undertake an evidence review. Throughout the development of these standards HIQA will engage widely with key stakeholders with experience of health and social care services to ensure that the standards are fit for purpose in an Irish context and can be implemented in practice. HIQA will do this through early and ongoing engagement with stakeholder, using methods such as:  

  • A scoping consultation, due to take place in September 2020. Members of the public will be given the opportunity to give their views on what the standards should address, key sources of information that should be reviewed as part of the evidence review process, and groups or individuals who HIQA should be engaging with to inform the development of the standards.
  • A series of focus groups with children and families, as well as staff delivering health and social care services to hear their experiences and gather their views.
  • Regular Advisory Group meetings with policy makers, service delivery bodies and advocates for children and families using health and social care services.
  • A public consultation on the draft standards planned for the summer of 2021.