Regulation of residential services for people with disabilities

Who regulates residential services for people with disabilities?

If you or somebody you know lives in a residential service for people with disabilities, the service must meet certain standards. These standards apply to all residential services, including:

  • Respite services run by the Health Service Executive (HSE)
  • Respite services run by public, private or voluntary bodies that are funded or assisted by the HSE

You may also want to read about on the regulation of residential care for older people.


The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) registers and inspects all the residential services for children and adults with disabilities. All designated centres for people with disabilities must register with HIQA.

HIQA publishes inspection reports after every inspection. You can download the inspection reports from HIQA’s website. Read more about HIQA reporting below.

Standards in residential services for people with disabilities

HIQA inspects your residential service against the National Standards for Residential Services for Children and Adults with Disabilities to make sure it complies with the regulations.

The standards set out what a resident, their family, a carer, and the public can expect in a residential care setting for people with disabilities. Service providers must make sure they meet these standards.

Standards for residential services

The National Standards are grouped under 8 key themes. The first 4 relate to quality and safety:

  • Individualised supports and care
  • Effective services
  • Safe services
  • Health and development

And 4 relate to capacity and capability:

  • Leadership, governance and management
  • Use of resources
  • Responsive workforce
  • Use of information

You can find easy-to-read guides of the standards for adults and for children, and an audio guide to the standards, on HIQA’s website.

Responsibilities of the residential service providers

Your residential service must register with HIQA to open and operate.

In order to get a registration certificate, the residential service must show that it meets the:

  • Relevant standards
  • Legal requirements
  • Needs of the residents

The residential service must re-register for a registration certificate every 3 years.

Inspections of residential services

HIQA inspects the residential services against the National Standards and against laws and regulations.

These inspections can be announced beforehand or unannounced. Inspections can happen anytime during the day, evening, night, or weekend.

What happens during an inspection?

If you live in a residential facility, inspectors will talk to you and your family. They will also talk to managers, staff and interested people who want to speak to them.

The HIQA inspectors will ask you about your experience of living in the residential service and what it is like to live there. They will also look at the daily routines, the quality of the accommodation and meals, and other aspects of daily life in the residential service.

The inspector wants to make sure you are safe and that you have a good quality of life. They also want to check that you are included in decisions about your personal care, and that you get support for your individual health and social needs.

What happens after an inspection?

If the HIQA inspectors find that your residential service is unsafe, or that the National Standards and regulations are not being met, it has the legal power to take action for you and the other people living there.

When this happens, HIQA can refuse to register the service, cancel the service registration, or add conditions to the registration of that service.

Inspection reports

You can download the HIQA inspection reports from the HIQAs website.

Inspection reports give information about the residential services, the number of places available, and the general facilities. The report tells you which standards of care are good and which standards can be improved.

The inspection report also identifies what the residential home needs to do to improve its service to people with disabilities.

Making a complaint

If you have a concern about a service, you can give information to HIQA by phone, email or post.

While HIQA cannot investigate specific complaints, it reviews all the information they get, which influences how it monitors services.

For example, if you give HIQA unsolicited information about a service, it can then request the service provider to carry out an investigation or give more information on that service.

More information

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
Page edited: 30 June 2023