HIQA, the agency which monitors the safety and quality of both the healthcare and social care systems in Ireland, has published an assessment framework for nursing homes in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak. 

It's a self-assessment checklist aimed at owners and managers in the sector. 

Next week, inspectors will visit homes which are not affected by Covid-19 to ensure that they are complying. So how will it work? 

How many inspectors will be deployed?

In the initial phase, HIQA expects about 35 inspectors to be involved in the inspection process.

What is the purpose of the inspections?

The plan is to focus on those nursing homes which do not have an outbreak of Covid-19 to ensure that they are prepared in the event of an outbreak and have the necessary contingency plans in place.

Why will they be inspecting homes without the virus?

The aim is to ensure that residents are protected and that essential standards of care for residents are maintained at all times. All nursing homes without cases of Covid-19 will be inspected.

Is HIQA confident it has an adequate number of personnel to to inspect homes?

The organisation is redeploying resources internally to support the programme of inspections and will keep it under constant review.

Will the turnaround time between inspections and implementation be quick?

At the end of each inspection, a compliance plan will be issued to the provider. The provider will be required to undertake appropriate action, if necessary, to strengthen the plans they have in place to manage a Covid-19 outbreak. HIQA says the process will be expedited in light of the current public health emergency.