Like everyone at the moment, Dublin Simon Community is flexing and adapting in response to the Covid-19 crisis to protect our clients, staff, volunteers and the wider community. While Ireland is already seeing exponential growth in the number of confirmed cases, we are very conscious that this is still the ‘calm before the storm’, as Mr Varadkar said on St Patrick’s Day, and that hospitals will come under increasing pressure in the weeks ahead.
In response, we at Dublin Simon are supporting hospitals during this pandemic by providing 20 medical “step down” beds for people experiencing homelessness who are currently in hospital and now need less acute medical attention. To do this, we will be expanding our “Step-Up Step-Down” unit, which we run at our Usher’s Island treatment facility. The increased bed count will mean that 36 beds will be available in acute hospitals for those in need due to Covid-19.
The effects of homelessness and rough sleeping in particular can lead to many physical and mental health issues, with some individuals requiring medical attention on a regular basis. Our “Step-Up Step-Down” unit is staffed now by extra nurses who are fully equipped to deal with these specific cases and provide patients with the wraparound supports they need while also facilitating the release of acute hospital beds.
Additionally, across our services, Dublin Simon Community has closely followed HSE recommendations and has rolled out detailed action plans to protect clients, volunteers and staff and prevent the spread of Covid-19. We have also identified 25 isolation rooms, launched an internal awareness campaign, increased cleaning regimes and provided some Personal Protection Equipment such as masks, gloves and hand sanitiser to clients and staff.
We feel the expansion of our “Step-Up Step-Down” service is in the best interest of the vulnerable people we work with as hospitals become increasingly populated by Covid-19 patients and also hope it will support the brave hospital staff working around the clock to save more lives.
By Niamh Murphy, Step-Up Step-Down Manager
Dublin Simon Community frontline staff are continuing to work as normal, with office staff joining and supporting the frontline as the impact of Covid-19 increases. In response to this crisis, we are making an emergency appeal for donations to help keep our vital services open. Any donations possible during these trying times are gratefully accepted.