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Home > The mental and physical health and well-being of homeless families in Dublin: a pilot study. A report by Focus Ireland, the Mater Hospital and the Northern Area Health Board.

O'Brien, Justin and Waldron, Anne-Marie and Tobin, Genevieve and McQuaid, Paul and Perot, Siobhan and Pigott-Glynn, Liz and Houghton, Frank (2000) The mental and physical health and well-being of homeless families in Dublin: a pilot study. A report by Focus Ireland, the Mater Hospital and the Northern Area Health Board. Dublin: Focus Ireland.

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Focus Ireland, formed in 1985, is concerned with all issues of homelessness, but is particularly concerned about the effects of homelessness on families and their young children. This pilot study came about as a result of concern within three agencies- the Department of Child and Family Psychiatry at the Mater Hospital in Dublin, the Housing Division of Focus Ireland and the Area Medical Services, Community Care Area 6 of the Northern Area Health Board- about the effects of homelessness on families and their children, the lack of adequate support services and how the mental health of parents impacts on children, especially in homeless families.

The aim of this project was to examine the mental health status of homeless children and their families who were living in Focus Ireland's transitional housing projects in Dublin. The survey comprised 14 homeless families, with 31 children. Of the 14 families, only two had both parents, mothers headed the remainder only. The findings of the survey confirm the vulnerability of children and families who are homeless, with the social exclusion and lack of support. It also highlights the high addiction levels and poor parenting skills. Forty-three percent of the women had an addiction relating to drugs or alcohol. The majority of families had been homeless for lengthy periods of time, with poverty and lack of affordable housing means that families can remain in this homeless cycle for long periods of time. Forty-four percent of the children were reported to have been born from pregnancies with complications; 29% were reported not to be normal at birth and 16% required admission to a special care baby unit. Fifty percent were at risk of contracting a number of infectious diseases because of incomplete or no immunisation.


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