The Government has approved the drafting of legislation to regulate and license providers of home-support services.
The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, will be responsible for drafting the proposals, which will establish a licensing framework covering publicly funded, for-profit and not-for-profit providers.
The framework will also include minimum requirements that will allow the regulator to determine whether providers are eligible to hold a licence, as well as national standards, which are currently being developed by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).
Governance and standards
Minimum requirements will cover areas such as corporate governance, clinical oversight, qualifications of home-support workers, and standards of service delivery.
Minister Donnelly said that the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the importance of helping the most vulnerable people in society to be cared for in their own homes for as long as possible.
The Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, welcomed the move, and said that the Department of Health would be consulting widely throughout the process.
The General Scheme of the bill is expected to cover:
- The procedure for applying for a licence,
- The establishment of registers of licensed providers,
- Procedures for revoking a licence, varying conditions or imposing new conditions,
- Procedures for imposing sanctions — including improvement plans, improvement notices and prohibition notices,
- Payment of fees,
- Transitional arrangements for providers already in operation when the legislation comes into force,
- Prohibitions on unlicensed activities.