The Health Information and Quality Authority ("HIQA") is the independent authority which was established in 2007 to ensure that high quality and safe care is provided to people using health and social care facilities in Ireland. As part of HIQA's role, they develop standards, inspect and review the variety of Health and Social Care services ("the Services") and support informed decisions on how the Services are delivered.
On Thursday, 16 July 2020, HIQA announced that it is to develop a set of national standards ("the Standards") for the care and support of children using Services in Ireland. This will be the first time that a set of standards have been developed that focuses on "the needs of a whole population" across the Services. The Standards will focus on the responsibilities of those providing Services, including the Health Service Executive ("HSE") and Tusla, when they are working to care for and support children.
This announcement stemmed from the development of the National Standards for Children's Social Services in 2018 ("the 2018 Standards"). During that process, it became apparent that there was a lacuna in the overall standards in respect of children and HIQA identified an opportunity to develop the 2018 Standards to support improvements in the Services working with children.
It is intended that the Standards, once developed, will improve the experience of children using the Services by "promoting clarity, consistency and continuity within and between services, and to focus services on the child first, rather than on the individual service needs".
Rachel Flynn, Director of Health Information and Standards at HIQA stated:
“All children have a right to be safe, to have timely access to appropriate services and support, and to maximise their wellbeing and development. There is an opportunity to improve the coordination and delivery of health and social care services by developing an overarching set of standards for all of these services that work with children. These standards will ensure that there is a focus on the whole child, not just the needs that they are presenting with. This will ensure that the interests of the child are put first, above individual service requirements and will promote a consistent, child-centred approach to service delivery.
She added that "it is recognised that additional support in the form of standards or guidance may be required in the future to assist disability services, mental health, primary care or acute services to implement the standards. It is anticipated that the need for any additional standards or guidance will emerge after the overarching standards have been in place for a period of time. These will be aligned to the principles set out in the overarching standards. Evidence for taking this approach can be found in Scotland, where overarching standards for all health and social care services were developed and quality frameworks for individual service settings were developed following the implementation of the standards, when services could identify gaps in implementation”.
A consultation on the Standards is due to take place in September 2020 and a public consultation on the draft Standards is planned for summer 2021.
Written by Sinéad Taaffe, Treasa Walsh and Sara O'Sullivan
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