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Standards Development Framework: a principles-based approach

Status: Published on

HIQA has developed a set of principles to underpin all national standards for health and social care services. These principles will be used as HIQA’s standards development framework, instead of the eight-theme framework which HIQA has used to develop standards since 2012. 
The principles have been developed to be used consistently across all national standards developed by HIQA, irrespective of the setting or service type. The principles underpin all national standards, including any tools developed to support their implementation. 

The four principles are 

  • a human rights-based approach,
  • safety and wellbeing,
  • responsiveness, and
  • accountability.

The graphic above sets out the four principles and illustrates that the person receiving care and support should be at the core of everything with each of the principles working together to achieve person-centred care and support. 


This document provides an introduction to the principles and sets out the: 

  • Background to the principles-based approach
  • How the principles will be used to develop national standards
  • Structure of national health and social care standards
  • Definitions and descriptions for each of the principles
  • How the principles were developed. 

This will not affect national standards published prior to the development of these principles, which continue to be fit for purpose and will remain in place unless a decision is made, in line with HIQA’s prioritisation process, to review and update them. Any such decision to review or update existing standards will be informed by consultation with stakeholders.