Valuable lessons for the vulnerable

May 28, 2024 in Featured News, News

A new report entitled An Evaluation of Peter McVerry Trust and their Operations during the Covid-19 Pandemic for Persons Experiencing Homelessness (PEH) was launched on Friday 25 May 2024. The study on behalf of the Trust was conducted by the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, and highlighted the McVerry Trust’s crucial role in providing services during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Peter McVerry Trust » is a national housing and homeless charity committed to reducing homelessness and the harm caused by substance misuse and social disadvantage. The charity provides low-threshold entry services, primarily to younger people and vulnerable adults with complex needs, and offers pathways out of homelessness based on the principles of the Housing First model. Its national headquarters are located in Dublin with regional offices in Cork, Limerick, Galway, Kildare, and Louth.

Fr. Peter McVerry SJ, and the Trust’s CEO Niall Mulligan were present at the launch of the pandemic report along with two individuals who had availed of the Trust’s isolation services during the pandemic.

PMVT Deputy CEO Liz Peña introduced the authors of the report, Professor Jo-Hanna Ivers and Neil Dunne. The team outlined the McVerry Trust’s response to COVID-19 and provided insights into the experiences of participants and staff in terms of isolation and shielding services.

The report also investigated how the response of the Trust to COVID-19 impacted those affected by homelessness and drug use. It was noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the vulnerabilities of people experiencing homelessness were exacerbated. The report found this was due to their adverse living conditions and pre-existing health issues. The authors identified lessons that could be learned that would inform future recommendations and enhance healthcare provision for these marginalised groups.

Key Findings:

Clinical Data Analysis: Data from 2893 service users revealed that the majority were Irish nationals (60%), with a significant portion from Dublin City Council (55%). Most participants faced recent homelessness, primarily due to family circumstances, with an average stay of 32 days with PMVT.

Subsample Analysis: Analysis of service users with higher needs (n=483) showed varying demographics and health conditions. Those with higher needs had shorter stays, underscoring the need for tailored support.

Qualitative Insights: Interviews with stakeholders revealed challenges such as limited substance access, changes in living conditions, and healthcare staffing issues. Positive outcomes included improved access to opioid substitution therapy and a strengthened sense of community among service providers.

Collective Intelligence Group Findings: A surge in service adoption during the pandemic was noted, with participants addressing challenges through resourceful strategies and acknowledging the interdependence of stable housing and overall well-being.

Key Recommendations:

The report’s comprehensive recommendations focus on enhancing support, tailoring interventions, and fostering inclusivity.

Tailored Interventions: Recognising diverse needs within the homeless community and implementing specialised outreach programs and case management services.

Coordinated Approach: Involving healthcare professionals, mental health specialists, and social workers in supporting individuals with higher levels of needs.

Integrated Services: Promoting integrated health and social inclusion, substance use disorder treatment, and gender-responsive services.

Trauma-Informed Support: Ensuring culturally and linguistically sensitive services, gender-specific outreach strategies, and trauma-informed care.

Ongoing Evaluation: Emphasising continuous evaluation, collaboration with specialised organisations, and responsive healthcare practices to promote cultural competence and holistic care.

Conclusion: This study sheds light on the nuanced impact of COVID-19 on homeless and drug-using populations. The recommendations offer valuable insights for shaping responsive and sustainable healthcare strategies for marginalised populations in future public health crises and beyond.

For more information and to access the full report click here »