Protecting human rights in health and social care settings - consultation

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has commenced a national public consultation on its Draft Guidance on a Human Rights-Based Approach to Care and Support in Health and Social Care Settings.

Human rights are protected under Irish and international law. While much of the work of staff in health and social care settings does observe human rights, there remains a lack of understanding about how human rights apply in their day-to-day work. In conjunction with Safeguarding Ireland, HIQA has developed guidance to support staff in delivering care and support that protects, promotes and supports the human rights of people using health and social care services. It will also assist staff in the implementation of national standards.

Rachel Flynn, HIQA’s Director of Health Information and Standards, said: ‘For many people working in health and social care services, a human rights-based approach already underpins many of their day-to-day decisions, for example in relation to staffing levels, physical restraint, personal care and end-of-life decisions. However, staff are often not aware that such decisions have human rights implications.’

A human rights-based approach to health and social care ensures that human rights are protected in practice and are embedded in the culture of a service. This ensures that people are treated with fairness, respect, dignity and equality, have a say over their lives and participate as fully as possible in decisions about their care and support.

Rachel Flynn continued: ‘It is important that staff in health and social care settings are aware of and understand what a human rights-based approach is. The guidance aims to support services to understand and implement this approach in their daily work through providing practical information and real-life examples under the principles of fairness, respect, equality, dignity and autonomy.’

HIQA invites members of the public to provide feedback on the draft guidance. The deadline for submissions is 5pm on Wednesday, 17 July 2019.

For more information on the draft guidance and the consultation, including how to make a submission, please view the consultation from the link at the bottom of the page.


For further information please contact:
Marty Whelan, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement
01 814 7480 / 086 244 7623 /

Notes to the editor

  • Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that all people should be free to enjoy. Human rights are legally enforceable entitlements protected by Irish and international law. If an individual’s rights are to be restricted, this must be in accordance with the law.
  • This guidance is being developed in conjunction with Safeguarding Ireland and is part-funded by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission under the Human Rights and Equality Grant Scheme 2017.
  • This guidance is an accessible resource that provides practical examples and case studies to support staff across a wide range of services. It has been written primarily for staff working in health and social care settings, but will also be useful for people using services, their families, carers, friends and advocates.
  • The guidance is based on a thorough review of national and international literature and extensive engagement with a diverse range of informed and interested parties including an Advisory Group, focus groups and key international stakeholders.
  • There are several national standards developed by HIQA that promote a human rights-based approach for example National Standards for Safer, Better Healthcare and National Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland. This guidance provides additional support to people working in health and social care settings in understanding a human rights-based approach and implementing National Standards.
  • A background document summarising national and international evidence on human rights and a human rights-based approach to care and support has also been published today on the HIQA website. This document was used to inform the development of the draft guidance.