HIQA publishes evidence review on homecare and home support services

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published a review of Irish and international evidence on homecare to inform the development of new National Standards for Homecare and Support Services in Ireland. 

Homecare is an increasingly in-demand and essential service which allows people receive care and support in their own home. HIQA is developing national standards in this area to support safe, quality, person-centred care in homecare and home support services. This evidence review provides an overview of the current Irish homecare context and summarises international, national and academic evidence to identify characteristics of good practices in homecare and support services.

It is well accepted that the preferred place of care for many people is in their own homes, for as long as is possible. The future demographic challenges, trends towards increasingly complex care being provided in the home, and the need to focus on a human rights-based approach that facilitates autonomy and choice, underline the need to develop homecare services to meet the needs of the population. This has the potential to allow people to remain in their own homes for longer and also have added protections in the context of prevention of infection. The national and international evidence showed that challenges remain for this sector in relation to recruitment and retention of staff and consistency of services. 

Rachel Flynn, HIQA Director of Health Information and Standards, said: “Strong and effective governance arrangements are required at national, regional and local service-delivery level, to ensure that people using homecare and support services receive consistent coordinated care. A regulatory framework underpinned by legislation and standards will offer assurance that people using homecare and support services will receive safe, quality, and person-centred care and help address concerns relating to access to services, accountability and continuity of care.”

The primary goal of homecare and support services in Ireland is to facilitate people to live in their own homes as independently as possible, for as long as possible, if they wish to do so. HIQA recognises the importance of the quality and safety of homecare and support services to support people to remain in their own homes. The national standards will aim to promote progressive quality improvements in homecare and support services and will give a shared voice to the expectations of the public, people using services, service providers and staff.

Rachel Flynn continued: “There is currently no statutory regulation of homecare and support services in Ireland. In our Regulation of Homecare: Research Report, we advocated for a complete review and, where necessary, an overhaul of the Irish homecare sector. We also called for the development of homecare standards and regulations that should incorporate the principles of a human rights-based approach, safety and wellbeing, responsiveness, and accountability — which will work together to achieve person-centred care and support. The regulatory framework should be inclusive to all in receipt of formal homecare and support services, without restrictions such as age.”

These national standards will form part of a regulatory framework for homecare and support services in Ireland, currently being developed by the Department of Health. HIQA will work closely with the Department to support this regulatory process, as well as engaging more widely with stakeholders in the development of the standards. This will include a six-week public consultation later this year where stakeholders and the wider public will have an opportunity to share their views on the draft standards.
Read the evidence review at the link below.

For further information please contact:

Marty Whelan, Head of Communications & Stakeholder Engagement
085 8055202, mwhelan@hiqa.ie 

Notes to the editor:

  • As set out in the Health Act 2007, HIQA’s role is to promote safety and quality in the provision of health and personal social care services, including through the development of national standards for services.
  • The National Standards for Homecare and Support Services in Ireland will be set out according to the principles of person-centred care and support. These principles are:
    • Human rights-based approach
    • Safety and wellbeing
    • Responsiveness
    • Accountability.
  • The National Standards will apply to organisations providing formal homecare and support services. 
  • An international review of homecare and support services in the following seven countries was conducted and included in this evidence review:
    • Scotland
    • England
    • Northern Ireland
    • Wales    
    • The Netherlands
    • New Zealand
    • Australia.