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This evidence review was developed as part of the standards development process for a new set of Overarching National Standards for the Care and Support of Children using Health and Social Care Services. It summarises international, national and academic evidence to identify characteristics of effective child-centred practices for children using health and social care services. Key findings from the evidence synthesis are presented under the four interlinked principles of:

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

About the Overarching National Standards for the Care and Support of Children using Health and Social Care Services

HIQA and the Mental Health Commission are developing Overarching National Standards for the Care and Support of Children using Health and Social Care Services. The standards will provide a common language and framework for all health and social care services working with children in order to promote integrated working across services and improve the experience and outcomes of children using these services. The standards will promote clarity, consistency and continuity within and between services, and will focus services on the child first, rather than on the individual service needs. 

This is the first time a set of standards are focused on the needs of a whole population across health and social care services. The standards will set out the responsibilities of both health and social care providers when they are working to care for, and support children. Written from the perspective of a child, the overarching standards will help health and social care services to plan for and deliver high-quality child-centred services.

The overarching national standards will also provide HIQA with a framework for the development of more specific standards or guidance that describe in more detail how services can care for and support children in a particular context. For example, the National Standards for Children’s Social Services will describe in more detail how children’s social services can provide consistent, coordinated, high-quality care and support to children who are at risk or in the care of the State. These standards will be aligned to and sit under the overarching national standards.

The overarching national standards will apply to all health and social care services working with children, including GP and primary care services, acute services, mental health services, services for children with disabilities, as well as children’s social services. While not all these services are within HIQA’s or the MHC’s regulatory and or monitoring functions, all services should work to achieve compliance with best practice for integrated and child-centred care as set out in the standards.  

HIQA and the MHC will undertake extensive stakeholder engagement to inform the development of the standards, meeting with children and families with experience of health or social care services, as well as advocates, front-line staff, management and policy-makers.