HIQA launches new standards for infection prevention and control in community services

Date of publication:

For the first time, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has developed specific national standards for infection prevention and control in community health and social care services.

These Standards, approved by the Minister for Health, cover key areas of infection prevention and control and antimicrobial stewardship and apply to all community health and social care services outside the acute hospital setting in Ireland, for example:

  • ambulance services 
  • care delivered in the home
  • general practices
  • dental practices
  • residential services for older people and people with a disability
  • day care services
  • and pharmacies.

Rachel Flynn, HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards, said “Preventing and controlling healthcare-associated infections continues to be a significant challenge throughout the world. Healthcare-associated infections are acquired as a direct result of healthcare interventions, such as medical or surgical treatment, or from being in contact with a health or social care service, and are increasingly prevalent in community care settings. The basic principles of infection prevention and control apply regardless of the care setting, and healthcare-associated infections are avoidable if measures are taken to identify and address the work practices, equipment and environmental risks that have the potential to cause infection.”

“Preventing the spread of infection depends on everyone working within a service understanding their responsibilities and engaging in ways to reduce the risk of infection, such as ensuring hands, equipment and the environment are kept clean. It is critically important that all community health and social care services continue their best efforts to meet the national standards in line with relevant legislation and that they prioritise areas for improvement to ensure that the people using services are protected from the risk of infection.”

The Standards consist of eight themes, providing a framework for best practice and covering important areas such as:

  • communicating well with people who use community health or social care services
  • involving people in making decisions about their care
  • providing care in a clean and safe environment
  • prescribing antimicrobial medication in a safe manner
  • educating people about how to protect themselves from acquiring infections, for example by giving people practical information about good hand hygiene practices and the importance of vaccination.

The National Standards have been informed by a review of national and international standards, guidelines and guidance documents and engagement with people who work in community services and the people who use these services. It is envisaged that all community services will adopt these National Standards to promote improvements in the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections in their services.

Read the National Standards, our animation and supporting documentation on the publication page linked at the bottom.


For further information please contact:

Marty Whelan Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement
01 814 7480 / 086 244 7623

Notes to the Editor:

  • The National Standards for infection prevention and control in community services are based on national and international evidence. A National Standard describes the high-level outcome required to contribute to quality and safety of a service. HIQA reviewed standards, guidelines and guidance documents from four countries: Australia, England, Scotland and Wales. HIQA also reviewed national guidelines, guidance and surveys from Ireland. The findings are outlined in a background document available on the publication page
  • The Standards were developed with a diverse range of informed and interested parties, including an advisory group and 13 focus groups with 97 people using community health and social care services and staff working in these services.
  • A national public consultation on the draft national standards was carried out during a six-week period from 31 January to 14 March 2018. Sixty one detailed submissions were received from a wide range of interested parties. A statement of outcomes document is available on the publication page, which presents feedback from the focus groups and public consultation and HIQA’s response to these submissions.
  • A national survey of healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial medication use in long-term care facilities in 2016 found that at any point in time about 1 in 25 residents have a healthcare-associated infection.
  • HIQA published National Standards for the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections in acute healthcare services in May 2017.