Residents living in smaller, community-based homes experience a better quality of life, live in safer services and are more likely to experience better personal outcomes.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published an overview of its inspection and regulation of designated centres for people with disabilities in 2021.

HIQA carried out 1,220 inspections in disability services last year. Inspections found that the majority of centres provided a good standard of care and support to people with disabilities.

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However, the report also outlines concerns over poor findings in relation to governance and management in a number of settings.

One in five inspections completed in 2021 found improvements were required to the provider’s governance and management arrangements, with non-compliance increasing throughout the year, including in centres where providers had good oversight arrangements prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

HIQA’s Deputy Chief Inspector of Social Services (Disability), Finbarr Colfer, said: “Poor governance and management has a negative impact on the quality and safety of care and support for residents, and impacts on their quality of life.

“It is critical that providers re-establish effective governance and oversight to ensure that residents receive the quality of support that they are entitled to.”

Furthermore, HIQA found that there continues to be significant variance in the level of non-compliance in congregated settings compared to community-based settings.

Mr Colfer continued: “We found that residents living in congregated settings were more likely to experience a poorer quality of life with notable inequalities in the overall quality and safety of the services being provided to residents.

“Furthermore, a higher number of congregated settings than in previous years required improvements to the overall quality and safety of the premises. Further work is required to ensure that the use and reliance on congregated or campus-based settings continues to be reduced.”

The report also highlights what residents told inspectors about their experiences of services and regulation and the new challenges presented for services, providers and residents in 2021.

Mr Colfer said: “During 2021, services for people with disabilities continued to adapt as a result of COVID-19. We commenced a new inspection programme to drive improvements in infection prevention and control across services.

“We continue to inspect designated centres to ensure there is ongoing vigilance in relation to managing the risk of COVID-19 infection, particularly in congregated settings.”

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