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National Standards

Legislative frameworks

National Standards

In addition to the national or regional laws or acts, some countries have a separate document, often referred to as “Minimum Standards” or “National Standards”, which amplifies on the regulations and provides specific details on the different requirements. The following countries have this type of document: Ireland, Malta, Netherlands and the UK (Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland). Portugal and Finland have developed guidelines which are influential but not mandatory.  As these documents have received different names in each country (e.g. National Standards in Ireland, Minimum Standards in Northern Ireland, National  Minimum Standards in Wales), for the purpose of this report, these documents will be referred as the “National Standards”.

The National Standards are in all cases regulated by law and there is a regulatory body or Authority designated to monitor and inspect their implementation (see table 4)

Scotland: Current and new standards in Scotland

The National Care Standards in Scotland (2002) are currently under review. 

The current National Care Standards in Scotland (2002) are arranged in three sections: “Services for Adults”, “Services for Children and Young People”, and “Services for Everybody” and apply to regulated care settings. The Standards for care homes for older people describe what each individual person can expect from the service provider. In Scotland, as a result of the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001 there are no legal differences between residential homes and nursing homes, thus the standards apply to both. Within the existing National Care Standards (NCS), there are no dementia specific standards. However, the national regulatory body, the Care Inspectorate, uses good practice standards and guidance to inform decision making, recommendations and requirements when inspecting services. For dementia this includes the National Dementia Standards and Promoting Excellence’s quality of life indicators.

The National Care Standards in Scotland, have been under a process of review and new standards (National Health and Care Standards) will come into effect from April 2018. The new standards are relevant across all health and social care provision. They are no longer just focused on regulated care settings but for use in health and social care, as well as in early learning and childcare, children’s services, social work and community justice. The new standards reflect a greater focus on human rights and wellbeing. Also, the standards mark a shift in approach, moving from setting out what a provider of a care service must do, to describing what a person should experience as a result of care. This change to outcomes-focus standards means quality will be assessed with reference to the lived experience of a person, not just compliance with a set of minimum standards.


In Norway, the government is currently working at national level to improve the quality of residential care facilities; this work will inform the national standards.

The Norwegian Government, in collaboration with the Minister for Health, has started some work at national level to improve the quality of residential care facilites. The work will be finished by 2020. The process has been called ”Safe care facilities” and has involved municipalities, trade unions, professional organisations and patients organizations. So far, three main areas have been identified to work on and for which to develop models of better care quality. These are: (1) leadership and knowledge, (2) activities and (3) nutrition and food. The models will be tested in a number of municipalities before they will become national standards.

Last year, there was a lot of debate about the quality of residential care facilities in Norway, in particular: malnutrion, the quality of the food and residents having to eat together were topics which got a lot of attention.

Table 4: Regulatory bodies / authorities


Name of regulatory body / authority


Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA): an independent authority established to drive high-quality and safe care for people using health and social care services in Ireland.


A Bill to establish the Homes for Older Persons (Care Quality Standards) Authority was drafted for consultation in August 2016. The Bill is still being discussed in Parliament.


The Netherlands Care Authority.

UK - Northern Ireland

Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority.

UK- Wales

Healthcare Inspectorate and Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales.

UK- Scotland

Care Inspectorate is an executive non departmental public body which carries out regulatory functions on behalf of the Scottish Government.






Last Updated: Friday 31 January 2020


  • Acknowledgements

    This Dementia in Europe Yearbook received funding under an operating grant from the European Union’s Health Programme (2014-2020). The content of the Yearbook represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.
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