Tuesday, 17 November 2020
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
405. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the role that HIQA plays or could play in evaluating the adherence of homeless facilities, including privately run facilities, to the national quality standards framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37086/20]
406. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the plans in place to address shortcomings in the national quality standards framework among privately run homeless facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37087/20]
408. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if private emergency accommodation providers are to be included in the quality standards framework and inspection regime developed by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive; and the level of inspection of voluntary sector emergency accommodation that has taken place since the framework was introduced. [37097/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 405, 406 and 408 together.
My Department’s role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the statutory role of local authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of accommodation and related services for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities.
The National Quality Standards Framework (NQSF) for homeless services is in place nationally, and is designed to ensure a consistent approach in how local authorities and service providers respond to the needs of those experiencing homelessness and to improve the quality of services provided.
Monitoring and inspection of services is an important element of the Framework. The Framework is consistent with Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) standards and seeks to ensure levels of quality in the provision of temporary accommodation and related services for homeless persons. The standards give service providers a framework for continuous quality improvement in their services. Local authorities undertake monitoring and review activities to assure that services are operating effectively. It is matter for the local authorities to ensure compliance with the standards, including through the contractual arrangements and service level agreements in place with partner organisations.
Local authorities carry out inspections on facilities that are not covered under the Framework, as they determine to be appropriate. The Standards and Facilities Teams in the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) oversee all emergency accommodation and seek to ensure that all relevant guidelines, policies and procedures are complied with in order to deliver a safe and comfortable place to stay for service users. The DRHE has an inspection regime in place to deal with complaints and to ensure accommodation is appropriate and safe. This includes engaging with homeless families and individuals on issues arising in their accommodation.
In this regard, I understand that since January 2020, the DRHE has carried out 126 unannounced night inspections of privately operated emergency accommodation facilities. This monitoring work is ongoing to ensure the health and safety of the clients who are using the facilities.
Guidelines for Service Users in Emergency Accommodation were recently reviewed by the DRHE and issued to clients in private emergency accommodation. The DRHE has assured me that it has a thorough complaints procedure in place, and that each complaint is fully investigated and addressed in a timely manner.
Separate to the service standards expected of providers via service level agreements, all homeless service providers must meet the requirements of statutory codes, in particular the requirements of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and the Fire Services Acts.