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Long, Jean (2011) Dublin Simon health survey 2010. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 36, Winter 2010 , p. 22.

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 The staff at Dublin Simon Community completed a health survey1 of clients attending its services between 26 July and 1 August 2010. The services included emergency accommodation, supported housing projects, alcohol and other drug treatment facilities, and settlement services.  

Of the 729 clients who used the services, 349 (48%) participated in the survey. Not all respondents answered all the questions so denominators vary throughout the report. The survey collected data on a range of complex issues that influence homelessness, including demographics, reasons for becoming homeless, length of time homeless, access to benefits and allowances, behavioural issues, and drug and/or alcohol consumption.
 
The survey respondents were 80% men and 20% women. The youngest respondent was aged 18 and the oldest was aged over 75. The highest proportion (30%) of respondents was aged between 36 and 45 years and second most common age group (at 26%) was 26–35 years. The majority (95%) of respondents were Irish. Two-fifths were in emergency accommodation. The other types of accommodation used were: high support (14%), local authority (8%), private rented (8%), low support (7%) and sleeping rough (7%). Excluding respondents in tenancy sustainment, 37% of those surveyed were homeless for over five years, and 34% were homeless for between one and five years.
 
 Of the respondents in tenancy sustainment, 25% had been homeless for over five years, and 33% for between one and five years. Excluding respondents in tenancy sustainment, the primary or secondary reasons for becoming homeless were personal alcohol use (29%), personal drug use (26%), family conflict (25%), relationship breakdown (14%), personal mental health problems (8%), being asked to leave by family (8%), and eviction from local authority or private rented accommodation (5%). The proportion registered as homeless was 78%, while 22% were not registered. The majority of those not registered as homeless were in a long-term supported housing project. The benefits received were medical card (80%), social welfare (80%) and disability allowance (48%).
 
The health-related findings were as follows:
  • Of 309 clients who responded to the question ascertaining undiagnosed physical health symptoms or conditions, just under 27% had one or more problem. The most common problems were wounds and injuries, muscle and bone problems, and respiratory problems.  
  • Of 328 clients who responded to the question on diagnosed mental health conditions, 44% had one or more such condition and 11% had two or more conditions. The most common were depression (24%) schizophrenia (9%), bipolar (5%), and panic attacks (5%). 
  • Overall, 24% of the 349 respondents had both a physical and a mental health condition. Over 10% reported undiagnosed mental and physical health conditions.  
  • Of 345 clients who responded to the question on challenging behaviour, 16% reported at least one incident of aggression, violence or withdrawn behaviour. 
  • Of 286 clients who responded to the query about self-harm, just under 15% reported such an incident.  
  • Of 278 clients who responded to the query about suicide ideation, almost 17% reported suicidal thoughts while 25 people reported attempting suicide in the six months prior to the survey.  
  • Of 349 clients who responded to the question about complications arising from alcohol consumption, 27% had experienced such complications. The complications most commonly experienced were: memory loss (39%), falls and head injuries (37%), liver damage (34%), seizures (18%) and gastric problems (13%) .  
  • Of the 349 clients who responded to the survey, just under 44% (153) were current drug users. Among these, the main drugs consumed were heroin (68%), benzodiazepines (35%) and methadone (31%). Cannabis and head-shop substances were reported to a lesser extent. Of the people using drugs, 57% use two or more drug types (excluding alcohol).  
  • Overall, 24% of respondents used both alcohol and drugs. 
  • Of the 153 active drug users, 54% had complications arising from their drug use. The most common complications were vein damage (46%), hepatitis B and/or C (43%), and soft tissue abscesses (24%). Forty three per cent of the active drug users were diagnosed with a mental health condition 
  • Eighty-one of those who took part in the survey were intravenous drug users, of whom 40% had not had a viral screening in the last 12 months. 
  • Of those surveyed, over 86% were registered with a GP, while 12% were not. 
  • In the month prior to the survey, 58 respondents had 85 attendances at emergency departments, 48 had attended an outpatient department and 27 had been inpatients. 
This survey describes some of the health and welfare problems of people who are experiencing homelessness. It is a repeat of a survey completed in 2009 and shows broadly similar results, apart from an increase in the number of people with a diagnosed mental health condition, which rose from 40% in 2009 to 44% in 2010. 
 
 
1. Dublin Simon Community. (2010) Homelessness makes you sick: Dublin Simon Community snap shot health survey report 2010. Dublin: Dublin Simon Community. Available at www.drugsandalcohol.ie/14001

 

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 36, Winter 2010
Date:2011
Page Range:p. 22
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 36, Winter 2010
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Available)
Subjects:VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland > Dublin
MA-ML Social science, culture and community > Social condition > Homelessness > Homeless services
G Health and disease > State of health
T Demographic characteristics > Homeless person

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