- 30 April 2018
- 4 min read
Who are HIQA and what you need to know about them
Who are HIQA, how do they impact your job in a nursing or residential home, and how do you improve your chances of successfully navigating the inspection process?
Two words that are enough to strike fear into the hearts of even the most competent and qualified Residential Social Care Worker or nurse.
Who are HIQA, and what do they do?
The Health Information Quality Authority, or HIQA as it is better known, is an independent body established ten years ago, under the Health Act of 2007.
It ensures authority, accountability and responsibility from management, staff and registered service providers in relation to the health, safety and wellbeing of all individuals living in hospital or residential care settings.
The Health Act 2007 Statutory Instrument 367, and the National Standards for Residential Services for Children and Adults with Disabilities informs the inspection process as carried out by official HIQA personnel; the latter outlining good practice, whilst the former contains various regulations which are legally enforceable.
Anybody, whether in the public or private sector, wishing to operate or own a nursing home or residential care home in Ireland needs to acquire registration from HIQA. Thereafter, re-registration takes place every three years with inspections taking place in the intervening period at the discretion of an HIQA inspector.
HIQA can make both announced or unannounced inspections, unannounced inspections sometimes being a result of a ‘tip off’ from a concerned member of the public or complaint from a relative of the person being cared for.
What you can do to prepare yourself
So, as a nurse or residential care worker, what is the best way to familiarise yourself with the HIQA inspection process?
The first port of call is the HIQA website where you will find a veritable treasure trove of publications, standards and inspection reports.
Whilst providing an invaluable resource, the website itself can seem somewhat difficult to navigate, so it’s best to take your time and go through each relevant section thoroughly.
The Assessment Framework and Judgement Framework are both available for download and are particularly useful in deciphering how an inspector gathers evidence when monitoring or assessing a residential service.
In relation to putting correct practices in place prior to registration and for subsequent inspections, the best place to start is here.
The HIQA website also publishes reports of all designated registered centres that it has inspected, and this can be useful in learning where other residential or nursing homes fell short and how to avoid making the same mistakes (tip: it’s also useful if you are job hunting and want to get an idea of the standards/culture of a potential work place).
It can also be worth checking your local College of Further Education to see if they run courses facilitated by former inspectors on how best to prepare for an HIQA inspection.
I recently completed a Certificate in Healthcare Regulation by night, and what I learned has informed much of this article!
You’ll also meet fellow Health and Social Care practitioners, and this can be a great way to swap tips and advice from people in the same situation.
Although it has only been in existence for a decade, HIQA has achieved a remarkable amount in that time; helping registered providers, staff and management improve and reflect upon how they carry out their work.
This in turn had led to significant improvements in the lives of vulnerable adults and children in their care.
Although at times the HIQA inspection process can seem quite daunting, it is important to remember that its core purpose is maintaining the care, safety and wellbeing of residents, and as such is something to be embraced rather than feared.
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