DCU lead new research to examine Covid-19 care among people who are homeless.

Niamh Quinlan

The research is headed by Dr Briege Casey of DCU’s School, Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health, and will examine the characteristics of a number of nurse-led Covid-19 interventions.

The aim is that the research will help “to develop healthcare knowledge and practice in COVID-19 prevention and intervention”, according to lead knowledge user, Dr Fiona O’Reilly of Safetynet Primary Care.

Dr Casey said that “people who are homeless, particularly those with addictions and/or sleeping rough, already experience a range of illnesses and health vulnerabilities.” She also said that homeless people may have inadequate access to healthcare and infection control measures.

This, along with social distancing and self-isolation being very difficult for people in unstable accommodation, make homeless people very vulnerable to contracting Covid-19.

For many homeless people in search of healthcare, nurses are usually the most accessible healthcare professionals. The research will focus on discovering the best practice of how to deliver healthcare, through nurses, during the pandemic to the homeless people of Ireland.

The research project will be a collaborative effort of “nurse practitioners and researchers from a wide range of Inclusion Health contexts,” according to Dr Mary Rose Sweeney, the head of School, Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health.

“Many of the research team actually work as nurses in homeless services or healthcare services dealing with the needs of homeless populations,” said Dr Casey. The nature and quality of these services already being provided will be examined closely.

“The views of homeless people will be central to the research,” she also said. 

Figures from August of this year, the latest ones to be provided by Focus Ireland, show that there are 8,702 people who are homeless or relying on homeless emergency accommodation.

The research team will examine “numbers of referrals, treatment pathways, the effectiveness of nurse-led COVID related interventions in preventing, tracing and treating COVID-19 infection among those who are homeless.”

The team will also be working closely with a range of homeless charities and organisations, including the Dublin Simon Community and the homeless branch of Healthlink, a site that provides “a web-based messaging service which allows the secure transmission of clinical patient information between Hospitals, Health Care Agencies and General Practitioners.”

Niamh Quinlan

Image Credit: OCSC