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38 deaths in homeless services in first three months of this year

North Inner City Councillor Anthony Flynn said the report on the 79 deaths in Dublin last year needs to be published urgently.
May 6th 2021, 9:36 PM 17,919 19

38 PEOPLE WHO were known to homeless services around the country died in the first three months of 2021, according to newly released figures.

The Department of Housing’s homelessness quarterly performance report for the first quarter of the year show eight people outside of the Dublin region died while availing of services.

Three of the deaths occurred in the southwest region, two in the mid-east, and one each in the northeast, south-east and west.

Figures provided by the DRHE to TheJournal showed that 30 people in the Dublin region had passed away during the same three month period.

Among that figure, 16 people died while availing of emergency hostels run by charities or private providers, three died on the streets and a further 11 people died in long-term supported housing. 

The DRHE said it was not requested by the Department of Housing to provide data on deaths in homeless services for the report, but said it provides “regular updates on this issue during 2020 and in January 2021 the detail of deaths for the full year was published”.

In 2020, 79 homeless people died in the Dublin region, an increase from 49 in 2019. In 2018 there were 47 reported deaths.

Focus Ireland said it was deeply concerned with the number of deaths over the past 12 months, especially in Dublin.

“The circumstances of any death are often complex and respect must be shown to the deceased as well as to the families who are grieving. We must do more to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place by investing in targeted prevention services and also mental health and rehab facilities,” a spokesperson for Focus Ireland said.

“Meanwhile, anyone who is homeless, whether they are rough sleeping or in emergency accommodation needs quick access to long-term stable accommodation with the appropriate wraparound support.”

‘Unacceptable’ 

The rise in deaths last year prompted the commissioning of a report to analyse the data concerning deaths in homeless services for 2020, with the additional aim of identifying where the provision of care to homeless people provided homeless and health services can be improved.

In response to a parliamentary question on 28 April on the status of the report, Minister Darragh O’Brien said the review “is due for completion in the coming weeks”.

Likewise, when asked today by TheJournal about the status of the report, the Department of Housing pointed towards Minister O’Brien’s 28 April answer that it was “due for completion in the coming weeks”.

North Inner City Councillor Anthony Flynn said he has been calling on Minister O’Brien to publish the report since the end of March – when O’Brien originally said it would be completed.

“It’s unacceptable from the Minister that he hasn’t produced the report that he promised by the end of March. We’re expecting a rise in the number of people accessing homeless services in the next couple of weeks now that the eviction ban is not in place,” said Flynn.

“The current system is clearly not working, which is why the report needs to be sped up”.

The review is being undertaken on behalf of the DRHE and the HSE by Dr Austin O’Carroll, the clinical lead for Covid-19 and homelessness in Dublin.

A feasibility study on data collection of homeless deaths nationally is also being undertaken by the Health Research Board on behalf of the Department of Health. The Department of Housing said this is due to be completed by the end of 2021.

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Paying tribute following the death of an individual known to Inner City Helping Homeless on Twitter earlier today, Flynn, the charity’s CEO, said: “Particularly difficult to hear of another death within homeless services, harder to break the news to staff who worked with the individual”.

“We need to move to Trauma-Informed Care, away from private providers. We cannot continue to lose people within service.”

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