Key points to note from HIQA’s new Standards Development Framework: a principles-based approach

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On 29th September 2021, HIQA published Standards Development Framework: a principles-based approach.  This document outlines a set of principles to underpin all national standards for health and social care services in Ireland. These principles will be used as HIQA’s standards development framework, instead of the eight-theme framework which HIQA has used to develop standards since 2012.

What are the principles?

There are four principles, these are:

  • a human rights-based approach,
  • safety and wellbeing,
  • responsiveness, and
  • accountability.

The principles have been developed to be used consistently across all national standards developed by HIQA, irrespective of the setting or service type. The principles underpin all national standards, including any tools developed to support their implementation.

Structure of all National Standards

HIQA note that this new Standards Development Framework will not affect national standards published prior to the development of these principles. All future health and social care national standards will consist of three sections:

  • Principles
  • Standards
  • Features


All national health and social care standards will be structured under the four principles:

  • A human rights-based approach: The principle of a human rights-based approach (HRBA) means that health and social care services respect, protect and promote the human rights of the person receiving care and support at all times.
  • Safety and wellbeing: The principle of safety and wellbeing is about how health and social care services work to protect and enhance the safety and wellbeing of people who use their services.
  • Responsiveness: The principle of responsiveness includes both how health and social care services are organised to deliver coordinated care and support that meets the needs of people using their service, and how people working in these services identify, assess and respond to a person’s needs in day-to-day practice, to ensure they receive the right care and support at the right time and in the right place.
  • Accountability: The principle of accountability is the foundation for how health and social care services ensure that people receive high-quality safe care and support that is consistent, coordinated and focused on achieving good outcomes for them. Accountable services have a clear vision for their work, support their staff to deliver on this vision, work well with other relevant services, and regularly assess the impact of their work on those that they are caring for and supporting.


The standards will describe how service providers can achieve safe, high-quality, and integrated person-centred care and support for people accessing the relevant services. HIQA envisaged that each standard statement will be comprised of two elements:

  • A statement written from the perspective of the person receiving care or support stating the outcomes they should expect.
  • A statement setting out the arrangements that a service provider must have in place to achieve these outcomes.


The features will demonstrate how a person should experience a service that is meeting the standards.


In line with emerging international evidence, HIQA developed the four principles to underpin all national standards for health and social care services. At the centre of the four principles is the person receiving care and support, they must be at the core of everything with each of the principles working together to achieve person-centred care and support.

To find out more about the principles see the HIQA website here.

Contact HCI

For more information contact or Phone +353 (0)1 6292559.