Minister Harris launches Dublin Simon Community’s Step Up Step Down facility

One of a kind service will provide life saving medical care to people who are homeless

Minster for Health, Simon Harris TD, today (13 September) launched the Step Up Step Down (Intermediate Care) facility with Minister Catherine Byrne TD, at Dublin Simon Community’s Homeless Specific Medical Residential Treatment and Recovery Facility, Ushers Island, Dublin 8.

Delivered in partnership with Safetynet Primary Care, and in collaboration with other hospitals and key stakeholders in the homeless sector, the new 12 bed unit will provide short term semi-acute healthcare interventions, treatment, investigations and observations for people who are homeless and/or recently homeless.

Affirming the commitment for specialised health care for people who are homeless, Minister Harris said:

“The service being launched today is part of the health care commitments outlined in ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ and is in line with national policy objectives in ‘Reducing Harm Supporting Recovery’ in relation to Health and Homelessness.

“This 12 bed facility increases the treatment capacity at Simon’s treatment facility at Ushers Island. The step up beds will stabilise patients for hospital admission or assessment for further treatment while also enabling them to recuperate, rehabilitate and move to accommodation following a stay in hospital. This service is the first of its kind and will ensure that we improve health outcomes for people who are homeless.”

Speaking about the need for specialist health care, Majella Darcy, Head of Dublin Simon Community’s Treatment services explained:

“People who are homeless have a mortality rate that is 3.5/4 times greater than the housed population. In addition to this, there is also a higher morbidity rate from physical conditions that are rarely found in the general population such as HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis.

“Our clients experience multiple social barriers when trying to access healthcare because no specialised facility such as this currently exists. As a consequence, homeless clients tend not to access healthcare treatment for diagnosis in the first place, or when they do access, they often do not have sufficient supports after their treatment to recover; which leads to the higher mortality and morbidity rates mentioned.

“The development of this Step Up Step Down facility in partnership with Safetynet and supported by key collaborators not only brings together the expertise and support needed for this life saving service, it has multiple benefits to the wider health care community, such as reducing demand on busy emergency departments and the ambulance service.”

Ms. Darcy continued to outline and explain Dublin Simon Community’s plans to expand their homeless specific Medical Residential Treatment and Recovery facility to keep up with the overwhelming demand.

“The Step Up Step Down facility is part of our vision to increase the capacity of our Medical Residential Treatment and Recovery Facility at Ushers Island to 100 beds. This purpose built facility is Dublin Simon Community’s response to the high demand for health, addiction treatment and recovery services.”

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