Regulation of residential care for older people


Residential care services must meet certain standards which include the quality of accommodation and care.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is responsible for inspecting and registering residential care services for older people, such as nursing homes.

All residential care services must be registered and independently inspected. This includes public, private and voluntary nursing homes.

Before July 2009 the Health Service Executive (HSE) was responsible for the registration and inspection of private and voluntary residential care services and provided inspection reports up to that date.

Registration and inspection of residential care

By law, all residential services must be inspected and registered by HIQA to be allowed to operate. Residential services must re-register with HIQA every 3 years.

HIQA inspections ensure that services meet the requirements set out by the Health Act (2007) and the National Standards. If the service does not comply with the regulations or meet the Standards, it may fail to achieve registration status or lose its registration status.

The inspections are a mixture of both announced and unannounced visits. They can happen at any time. This includes during the day, evenings, and weekends or at night.

The registration and inspection process is independent and reports are published after every inspection. The inspection reports provide information to residents, their families and the general public about the standards of care in individual centres.

You can view the registers of residential centres for older people and the current inspection reports on the HIQA website.

The standards

The National Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland (pdf) aim to make sure the needs of people living in residential services are met and that there is a high quality of care.

The standards aim to help residents participate in, and contribute to, daily life.

These include:

  • Promoting your rights and respecting your autonomy, privacy and dignity
  • Supporting you to be as independent as possible and to exercise personal choice in your daily life
  • Safeguarding and protecting you from abuse
  • Providing you with information and assessment so you can get the appropriate supports to meet your needs

How to complain about a residential service

If you, a member of your family or someone acting on your behalf have concerns about your care, you should first try to resolve these with the management of the residential service.

By law, all care providers must have a process for handling complaints and must tell you how you can make a complaint. If you complain to your care service provider and you are not happy with the response, contact the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman investigate all complaints about public and private residential care. It doesn't matter if you're paying for the care yourself or it's funded by the HSE.

You can also share this information with HIQA.

HIQA do not have the power to investigate individual complaints but they can use the information to decide whether the service is meeting the needs of the people who live there. If HIQA find they are not, they can take action to make sure that care services are improved.

HIQA have published information on how to make a complaint about a nursing home (pdf).

Where to apply

You can inspect the registers of residential centres for older people and the inspection reports on the HIQA website. Apply to individual residential care services for details of their cost and conditions.

More information on the registration and inspection of residential care services, as well as on the National Standards, is available on the HIQA website.

Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA)

Unit 1301,
City Gate,
Co. Cork,
T12 W7CV

Regional office
George's Court,
George's Lane
Dublin 7,
D07 E98Y

Tel: (021) 240 9300 or (01) 814 7400

Office of the Ombudsman

6 Earlsfort Terrace
Dublin 2
D02 W773

Tel: (01) 639 5600
Page edited: 27 January 2022