Regulation of residential care for older people


The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is responsible for the registration and inspection of all residential care services for older people. Services are required to meet certain standards that include rules about the quality of accommodation and care.

All services, including public as well as private and voluntary nursing homes, are subject to this independent registration and inspection.

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

Services are only allowed to operate if they are registered by HIQA and they are inspected regularly to ensure that they maintain a high level of care.

HIQA inspect residential services and re-register each centre every 3 years. The inspections are a mixture of both announced and unannounced visits. These happen by day and also in the evenings, at weekends and at night.

The registration and inspection process is completely independent and reports are published after every inspection. These inspection reports provide information to the residents themselves, 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.

Contract of care

Before you go into residential care, a contract of care is agreed between you and the residential care service. This contract sets out the terms that are to govern your care and welfare and must include details of the services to be provided and the fees to be charged.


The National Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland (pdf) are intended to help to ensure that the needs of people living in residential accommodation are met. There is also a guide to the standards (pdf)and a leaflet on registration and inspection (pdf).

There are 35 standards which aim to help people participate in, and contribute to, daily life.

These include:

  • Promoting the rights of people and respecting their autonomy, privacy and dignity
  • Facilitating people to be as independent as possible and to exercise personal choice in their daily lives
  • Safeguarding and protecting people from abuse
  • Providing people with information and assessment so that appropriate supports are made available to meet their needs

The 35 standards are grouped into 8 themes.

Four of the themes relate to quality and safety:

  • Person-centred care and support
  • Effective services
  • Safe services
  • Health and wellbeing

Four of the themes relate to the ability to deliver improvements in quality:

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


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 at a local level, with the management of the care service.

Legislation states that all care providers must have procedures for handling complaints and must provide information about how you can make a complaint. If you are unhappy with the response you get from your provider or local HSE office, you can share this information with HIQA.

HIQA do not have the power to investigate individual complaints but you can report any concerns you have to HIQA. HIQA can use the information to decide whether the service is meeting the national standards and regulations, and to check 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 services are improved.

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 from HIQA.

Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA)

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

Tel: (021) 240 9300 or (01) 814 7400
Page edited: 27 September 2016