Making health equity a reality through research, education, policy and practice
29 – 30 September
Irish Street Medicine Symposium
University College Dublin
Participants at the Irish Street medicine Symposium 2016
The second Irish Street Medicine Symposium was held in University College Cork on Saturday 24th September 2016.
Minister for Housing Simon Coveny T.D. and Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Des Cahill attended the second Irish Street Medicine Symposium - “Working together – Learning from each other.” The symposium captured the complex health challenges endured by Ireland's growing homeless population. The meeting’s focus was on the issues faced by health care professionals, hostel and outreach staff and ancillary services as they seek to work together to overcome the many challenges involved in ensuring homeless and marginalised populations have access to appropriate health and social care services. The symposium allowed those working on the frontline to share information about the different services available and to highlight innovative care solutions that have been developed across services such as addiction, mental health primary and secondary care.
The Symposium was organised by the Cork Adult Homeless Integrated Service, Health Service Executive Social Inclusion with UCC’s Department of General Practice and Partnership for Health Equity. The first study to calculate mortality rates among an Irish homeless population was presented by Dr Jo-Hanna Ivers (Institute of Public Health, TCD). Professor Ella Arensman (National Suicide Research Foundation) presented on self-harm and suicide in the homeless population and Paralympian Dr Austin O’ Carroll spoke about Safetynet Primary Care Services for Homeless People.
“The Paralympics for me was part of the larger movement to address the stigmatization and inequitable treatment of people with disabilities. The Irish Street Medicine Symposium is part of the larger movement addressing how stigmatization and inequity have such a profound effect on the health of homeless people”, said Dr Austin O’Carroll.
There was an international dimension with Dr Don Coffey (Adult Homeless Integrated Team) addressing the conference. However UCC displayed its IT mastery with a live link up with Perth to allow Dr Amanda Stafford present on a novel treatment of chronic alcoholism that has worked well for her homeless patients. Her presentation The Hospital, the Homeless and the Hopeless: New Ways to Help, sees more patients (21 %) drinking at WHO safe levels in the last month of the 12 month trial period when treated with Baclofen compared to those who were not.
In an equally innovative and entertaining presentation Dr Al Story (Clinical Lead Find and Treat, NSS) demonstrated the effectiveness of using mobile phone technology to allow Video Observed Treatment of TB.
The day was packed with a total of 36 excellent presentations demonstrating a very high standard of quality and innovation. The presentation awarded the Safetynet Prize for commitment to improve the lives of people experiencing homelessness was Dark End of the Street by Kashia Stubba / Denise Cremin (Cork Simon Community). The outreach workers were presented with an original drawing donated by Dorothy Smith http://dorothysmith.ie/
Dr’s. Anna Marie Naughton and Fiona O’Reilly, organisers of this year’s symposium stated; “We believe there is power in ideas and in being with people who can bring those ideas to reality. We cannot get out of our silos unless we know each other. Last year, inspired by the International Street Medicine Symposium, trainees from the North Dublin City GP training Programme held the first ever Irish Symposium, now it’s becoming an annual event. This event allows us get to know one another, share practice and ideas so that we work together rather than in isolation.”