“I didn’t know I was ill. Now I have a psychiatrist and a mental health nurse who call me on a weekly basis. If I had not started coming to the centre, I would not have had any of that support”
Cork’s Adult Homeless Multi-Disciplinary Team of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals operates from our Day Service. The team works specifically with people sleeping rough or staying in emergency accommodation, many of whom experience very poor mental and physical health; the specialist health team is experienced in treating these complex health issues.
The Health Team consists of a Community Nurse, GP, Community Psychiatric Nurse, Consultant Psychiatrist, Clinical Psychologist, Counsellors and an Addiction Counsellor.
Homelessness can make you sick, being sick can make you homeless. Poor mental and physical health is common among people who are homeless.
People who are homeless tend to have higher morbidity from physical conditions that are common, as well as conditions that are rarely found, in the general population. The need for a specialist team to deal with the often challenging physical and mental health needs of people who are homeless has long been acknowledged; a government-funded health team ensures that people who are homeless have access to the most appropriate health care.
People who are homeless have mortality rates 3½ to 4 times greater than the housed population.
Cork Simon has published several reports highlighting the poor mental and physical health of people using Cork Simon services, including:
Throughout 2014 people using Cork Simon services accounted for over 3,000 consultations with the health team. At least 15% of those consultations were to do with mental health.
In January 2011 the health team’s GP at the time, Dr. Don Coffey, was awarded the Fiona Bradley medal in recognition of his “…commitment to the integrity of vulnerable individuals”. The Fiona Bradley medal is awarded each year to people who have contributed to better medical practice, particularly in the most disadvantaged areas of our society.
A year later Dr. Coffey was was appointed Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners. Fellowship is the highest honour awarded by the College and recognises significant contributions to patient care and the esteem in which a doctor is held by peers.
Both the Fiona Bradley medal and the appointment as Fellow of the RCGP recognise the difference the GP and his colleagues in the health team make in people’s lives everyday.