“Waiting, Waiting, Waiting” – delays in sourcing safe accommodation and rehab treatment causing poor mental and physical health – Dublin Simon

by Rose Barrett
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Dublin Simon Community revealed its Annual Review 2021 on Thursday last at Chester House in Phibsborough, detailing the catastrophic impact the long wait for mental health supports and accessing rehab programme is having.  

Stating the constant “waiting, waiting, waiting” is having detrimental affects, on both physical and mental health on so many, who are genuinely seeking to exit homelessness.

Dublin Simon stated that waiting times for mental health and detox services have increased by 68% and by 13% respectively as demand continues to grow. 

Furthermore, 75% of those presenting to Dublin Simon’s clinical services are presenting for the first time with physical health and addiction issues.

“Sixty-eight per cent of those accessing Sure Steps Counselling are first-time presenters. But sadly, 44% of detox clients have been homeless for over five years” said Dublin Simon Community.

The organisation did note that the number of people accessing Simon’s education and employability services increased by 62% in 2021.”

While Dublin Simon increased its property stock by 3% in response to the urgent need for accommodation, the lack of people accessing safe, emergency accommodation remains a huge issue for many.

Simon Dublin Community expanded its Primary Nurse Care team responding to demand with additional nursing capacity, facilitating huge growth in interventions from 180 in 2020 to 1,080 in 2021. 

Dublin Simon Community CEO, Sam McGuinness said “People are losing hope as homelessness figures continue to rise.”

Speaking at the launch was Dublin Simon resident Ken Eivers, who reflected on his own time in homelessness and the effects of the homelessness system on the vulnerable people within it: 

“It’s all waiting – waiting, waiting, waiting every day. For a phone call, for a referral, for confirmation you have somewhere to sleep that night. And that’s not even anywhere near the stage of moving into a home. When you go into emergency accommodation you soon learn that nothing moves quickly in this system and it’s all out of your control. It wears you down.” 

Commenting on the report, CEO Sam McGuinness said: 

“Our figures show the frightening reality that while the homelessness crisis is gathering pace, the people trying desperately to exit from it are spending a lot of time standing still, waiting for move on options, waiting for accommodation, waiting for essential healthcare and treatment supports.  Homelessness has become a waiting game, and these people are running out of time.” 

Stuck in Homelessness 

An overwhelming sense of being “stuck” was reported across all services from emergency accommodation to detox and recovery, with the lack of move-on options identified as a significant risk in triggering relapse. The chronic and ongoing lack of accessible one and two bed properties across the country has led to a situation which Mr McGuinness refers to as “the grimmest I have ever seen”. 

“In my nearly 20 years as CEO of Dublin Simon Community, the situation today is the grimmest I have ever seen. We worked with a total of 6,602 people last year across our services and not one of them should have to be in this situation. I remember a time when people spent a couple of months in emergency accommodation before moving on to a long-term home.

“Today, we have such an overwhelming number of people stuck in the emergency accommodation system that we could be facing the real prospect of people being stuck on the street. As a frontline service provider, we are still operating within Covid restrictions across our services which is stretching our capacity even further.

 “We are dealing with more complex cases than we have ever encountered. Some have multiple addictions and some have severe mental and physical health issues. These people are exhausted from weathering what life is throwing at them from all angles; the diminishing prospect of exiting homelessness, decreased access to vital services, two years of worldwide anxiety and isolation, rising inflation and the strain that all these things put on families and relationships.

“This exhaustion is visible in every area of our work. We saw it among the 5,225 contacts made by the Outreach team over the year and it was palpable among the 439 people who accessed our emergency accommodation services. Our teams are working extremely hard to ensure that those who are currently housed stay out of this situation, evidenced by the 2,564 people supported through our tenancy sustainment teams during 2021.” 

See the full report here:  https://indd.adobe.com/view/5aaabea7-5b7a-4925-8420-4f9165d696c0

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