Quality of care improving in nursing homes, but lack of effective safeguarding measures puts residents at risk

Date of publication:

Today, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published an overview report of regulation activity in designated centres for older people during 2018. 

The report details the findings from 542 inspections and outlines that while the quality of care and support provided in nursing homes is improving, a number of centres have more to do to comply with the minimum requirements.

Mary Dunnion, HIQA’s Director of Regulation and Chief Inspector of Social Services, said: “Over 31,000 people live in nursing homes in Ireland. They should expect to receive safe care that meets their specific needs, and should be assured that their home is being well managed. Our inspections found that this was the case for a large number of people, but many vulnerable older people continue to receive care in a physical environment that is not conducive to providing care in a dignified, safe and personalised manner.

“While significant progress has been made in a number of areas, providers must work to improve their services on a continuous basis. Some nursing homes are still failing to meet basic requirements, such as protecting residents from the risk of fire and ensuring they are afforded adequate space, privacy and dignity.”

The report also highlights the need for stronger safeguarding measures to protect the people who live in nursing homes.

Ms Dunnion continued: “Safeguarding is a basic function of any health or social care service and all service providers need to take this responsibility seriously. There is a clear obligation on registered providers to have a Garda vetting disclosure for all staff and volunteers available for inspection in the nursing home. However, almost half of Health Service Executive (HSE) services were failing to provide evidence of Garda vetting on inspection in 2018. 

“In the absence of safeguarding legislation or national policies, we await the Minister for Health’s approval of the National Standards for Adult Safeguarding, developed jointly between HIQA and the Mental Health Commission.”
Areas of improvement observed on inspection during 2018 include governance and management, and providing suitable activities that meet residents’ social care needs. 

“We continue to see a direct relationship between good governance and leadership, regulatory compliance and good outcomes for people living in the centre. It is essential that all nursing homes have a competent and qualified person in charge in place to ensure residents are receiving safe and quality care. Furthermore, as a whole, there are an increased number of meaningful activities available for residents, providing them with things of interest to do on a daily basis.

“Going forward, HIQA will continue to focus on areas on concern to ensure that service providers are meeting the needs of the people who live in nursing homes.”


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

Notes to Editor:

  • As of 31 December 2018, there were 581 nursing homes in Ireland registered with HIQA, providing residential places to over 31,250 people.
  • In 2018, HIQA carried out 542 inspections of 444 centres, inspecting 76.4% of all registered nursing homes. 
  • 23% (or 123) of all nursing homes inspected during the year were found to be fully compliant with the regulations. A list of these centres is published in the report.  In 2019, HIQA commenced a restrictive practice thematic inspection programme to drive improvements in how people’s rights are upheld in nursing homes.
  • In 2019, HIQA commenced a restrictive practice thematic inspection programme to drive improvements in how people's rights are upheld in nursing homes