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New Study on Quality and Standards in Disability Services in Ireland published

Social Justice Ireland welcomes the NESC report Quality and Standards in Human Services in Ireland: Disability Services which has just been published. The report reviews existing regulation and quality processes in Ireland’s disability services, drawing on interviews with a range of stakeholders.

Key findings

With formal regulation of residential services due to begin in 2013,  the report outlines that there is a need for a re-balancing of the regulatory system so that it includes formal regulations and inspections to safeguard vulnerable people, but also builds on and strengthens the active search for continuous improvement demonstrated by many service providers. 

The report finds that for continuous improvement and innovation in the sector,  there needs to be:

a) a combination of standards and inspection;

b) a range of other drivers such as a focus on quality assurance and service user involvement; and that these are

c) connected to each other in some appropriate way.

In order to create real value in the sector the report recommends that one initiative that would have an impact would be the creation of a Quality Services Forum, bringing together all those working in disability to discuss quality issues across the sector.

Good practice

The report identifies good practice areas, many of which do not require additional resources, but rather involve a change of culture towards better performance, measuring and monitoring outcomes, service user involvement and tailored services. These are already present in some service providers but this learning could be shared across the wider disability sector. In this way, the disability sector could achieve an effective system to protect the vulnerable, be cost-effective and develop the strengths of the sector that are already working to achieve quality.

Further NESC Reports on Quality and Standards in Human Services

NESC is publishing a series of reports on quality and standards in human services.  In January 2012, it published an overview of concepts and practices, which examined international and Irish evidence of approaches to regulation and standards-setting in human services, along with the promotion of good practice. This Autumn, it has published further reports on quality and standards: in residential care for older people; in policing; in schools, with an accompanying report on PISA results, on home care for older people and on end-of-life care.  The final report, a synthesis report which draws the findings of all the reports together, will be published at a Quality and Standards Conference on the 21st November in Croke Park.

The National Economic and Social Council (NESC) was established in 1973.  Its function is to analyse and report to the Taoiseach on strategic issues relating to the efficient development of the economy, the achievement of social justice and the development of a strategic framework for the conduct of relations and the negotiation of agreements between the government and the social partners.  The Council is chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach.  It comprises representatives of trade unions, employer bodies, farm organisations, community and voluntary organisations, environmental organisations, key Government departments and has eight independent experts.  Dr Seán Healy, Director of Social Justice Ireland, is a member of NESC.

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