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Homeless people should have more access to mental health services, says report

Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) and the four county councils should provide greater access to Housing First services for longer-term homeless people, a report has said.

Compiled by Dr Austin O’Carroll, and commissioned by DRHE on behalf of the four local authorities, the report sought to “review the mortality of persons experiencing homelessness during 2020.”

Dr O’Carroll is a clinical lead for the ‘Dublin Covid-19 Homeless Response’ for the HSE.

The report recommends that a review framework be introduced to “conduct rapid analysis of clusters of deaths, broader critical incident reviews and five yearly aggregate mortality reviews by a multi-disciplinary committee.”

It also recommends that longer-term homeless people should be allowed greater access to Housing First services and that increased access to primary care and mental health services be introduced in emergency accommodation.

However, DRHE says that “the report can only be finalised when death certificates and inquest reports from the Coroner’s Office and data on deaths in the general population from the Central Statistics Office become available.

“The Coroner has agreed to allow a review of death certificates and inquest reports once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

“We would like to acknowledge Dr Austin O’Carroll’s immense efforts and commitment in writing this report.”

Additional recommendations include improved data collection and analysis and extensions of overdose protection services.

“The DRHE acknowledges that deaths of homeless service users are deeply upsetting for other service users, and for staff who have worked with the deceased person.

“We agree it is essential for service providers and statutory agencies to have an effective mechanism for reporting on and reviewing deaths in services.

“The findings of the report will be carefully considered and the implementation of its recommendations will be a priority for the DRHE in consultation with the HSE, through the Dublin Region Statutory Management Group and the Consultative Forum.”

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