EMBARGO: MIDNIGHT SUNDAY 29TH JANUARY 2011
LAW REFORM COMMISSION PUBLISHES
REPORT ON PROFESSIONAL HOME CARE
REPORT PROPOSES STATUTORY REGULATION OF
PROFESSIONAL HOME CARE BY HIQA
Monday 30th January 2012: The Law Reform Commission has today published a Report on Professional Home Care. The Report forms part of the Commission’s Third Programme of Law Reform 2008-2014, and recommends that the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) should be given additional regulatory and inspection powers to ensure that appropriate legal standards are in place for undertakings providing professional home care (the Report does not propose that the HIQA regulatory and inspection system would apply to informal carers, such as family members). The Report makes 29 recommendations for reform of the law and also includes a draft Health (Professional Home Care) Bill to implement them.
Demographic and policy background: care in the community
It is well known that the proportion of people living in Ireland who are aged over 65 has been increasing in recent years, and is projected to increase at an even greater rate over the next few decades. It is also well known, and entirely understandable, that the overwhelming majority of people aged over 65 wish to continue living in their own homes for as long as possible. The Government is committed to supporting this clear preference, most clearly indicated by the provision in recent years of home care support, primarily through the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE). At the same time, the home care provision by the State has been mirrored by the emergence of commercial home care providers.
Legal background: no regulation of professional home carers
Under the Health Act 2007, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is the regulatory and standard-setting body for the residential nursing home setting. In 2009, HIQA published national standards for the residential care setting. These standards cover 5% of the over 65 category. The Health Act 2007 does not, however, empower HIQA to set comparable standards for the provision of health care in the home setting, which would cover the remaining 95% of the over 65 category (though, of course, not all this group require home care). The Commission therefore recommends in the Report that the Health Act 2007 should be extended to allow HIQA to regulate professional home carers.
The main recommendations in the Report are that:
• HIQA should be empowered to regulate and monitor undertakings that provide professional home care (whether public sector or private sector, and whether for-profit or not-for-profit)
• While the main beneficiaries of the proposed new HIQA regulation would be like to be those over 65, the proposed system should apply to professional home care provided to any adult over the age of 18 in their own home
• HIQA national standards for professional home carers should be specifically tailored for the home care setting, building on 2008 draft HSE home care guidelines and existing HIQAQ standards for nursing homes
• the proposed standards should have regard to specific principles, including the right of the care recipient to independent living, privacy, dignity, quality of care and protection from abuse.
• there should be a specific register of professional home carers, which would set out specific requirements in relation to the registration and monitoring of professional home carers
• the terms and conditions of home care arrangements should be agreed between professional home carers and recipients, and this would be recorded in a care contract in order to offer the maximum protection to the care recipient
• the care contract should contain clear policies and procedures, in plain language, relation to the handling by a professional carer of money and personal property of the care recipient
• an individual who wishes to enter into an arrangement for the provision of professional home care services should have the option to contract with an intermediary, whether a State body (such as the HSE) or a private sector body, who would arrange for the provision of care and who would assume the responsibilities of an employer towards the professional home carer
• the Commission notes the importance of funding arrangements for professional home care, and surveys recent developments, but as this is a matter of ongoing government policy development, the Commission does not make any recommendations on this area.
Read Report here
For further information / interview with Commissioner Patricia Rickard-Clarke, contact:
Winifred McCourt, McCourt CFL T: 087-2446004
Background Notes for Editors
The Law Reform Commission is an independent statutory body whose main role is to keep the law under review and to make proposals for reform. To date, the Commission has published over 180 documents (Working Papers Consultation Papers and Reports) containing reform proposals, available at www.lawreform.ie. About 70% of these proposals have led on to reforming legislation. The Report will be available on the Commission’s website from the morning of publication.