Regulation of residential services for people with disabilities


Residential services for people with disabilities are required to meet certain standards. These standards apply to residential services, including respite services, whether they are run by the Health Service Executive (HSE) or by other public, private or voluntary bodies that are funded or assisted by the HSE.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is responsible for the registration and inspection of residential services for children and adults with disabilities. All designated centres for people with disabilities are required to register with HIQA.

Residential services are inspected against the National Standards for Residential Services for Children and Adults with Disabilities and are checked to ensure that they comply with regulations.

Reports are published after every inspection. Inspection reports are available to download from the Health Information and Quality Authority’s website,


The National Standards for Residential Services for Children and Adults with Disabilities outline what is expected of a provider of services and what a resident, their family, a carer, or the public can expect to receive in residential care settings for people with disabilities.

The 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

HIQA has published a guide to the Standards and there is an easy to read version of the Standards for adults, an easy to read version of the Standards for children and an audio version of the Standards.


To be given a registration certificate to operate a residential service for people with disabilities, a service provider must show that it meets the relevant standards and legal requirements and is able to meet the needs of the residents.

Services must register with HIQA and will be inspected to ensure that all services are of a consistently high quality. Services must re-register every 3 years.


Residential services will be inspected against the National Standards and against relevant legislation and regulations. Inspections may be announced or unannounced and may be during the day, in the evenings, at weekends or at night.

During an inspection visit, inspectors talk to the children and adults who live in the residential service and their families and with managers, staff and interested people who wish to speak to them. Inspectors focus on the experience of the person living in the residential service and what it is like to live there. They also observe daily routines, the quality of the accommodation and meals, and other aspects of daily life.

If HIQA inspectors find that a service is unsafe, or the National Standards and regulations are not being met, it will have the legal power to take a number of actions in the interest of the residents. These may include the addition of registration conditions, refusal to register the service, prosecution or cancellation of registration.


Inspection reports are published on the HIQA website. Inspection reports give information about the residential services, the number of places and the general facilities. The findings of the inspection are outlined, highlighting where standards of care are good and where improvements are required. The report identifies any necessary actions that are required to be taken.


You can provide information to HIQA if you have a concern about a service.

HIQA has no legal remit to investigate specific complaints but all unsolicited information received is assessed and taken into account in its monitoring activities which could include, for example, requesting the service provider to carry out an investigation or provide information.

HIQA provides an information leaflet about Responding to concerns in designated centres for children and adults with disabilities (pdf).

Page edited: 15 November 2016