Join us at the Irish Street Medicine Symposium at University College Cork

Irish Street Medicine Symposium 2016

On Saturday the 24th September 2016 at University College Cork the annual Street Medicine Symposium will meet to share information and best practice on Health and Homelessness. The meeting is being organised by the Adult Homeless Integrated Service, HSE South in partnership with the Department of General Practice and GP Vocational Training Scheme, UCC and The Partnership for Health Equity.

There will be plenty of opportunities to interact and connect with ‘Street Medicine’ colleagues from around Ireland and further afield, confirmed speakers include:

Ella Arensman, Director of Research, National Suicide Research Foundation
Fiona Barry, Senior Service Manager, Crosscare
Dr Dana Beale, Pathfinder Practice
Martina Bergin, Dublin Simon
Tim Bingham, HSE Addiction Services
Colin Bradley, Professor of General Practice, UCC
Des Cahill, Lord Mayor of Cork
Eleanor Cape, NDCGP
Sinead Carey, Project Manager, Novas Initiatives
Clíona Ní Cheallaigh, Locum Consultant General Medicine, St. James Hospital
Eibhlin Ni Choileain, Camden Health Improvement Practice
Aoibheann Ni Chonfhaola, St Luke’s Hospital
Elaine Conlon, Nurse, Adult Homeless Integrated Team
Simon Coveney, Minister for Housing
Denise Cremin, Cork Simon
Derek Dempsey, Counselling coordinator, Dublin Simon Community
John Dermody, UISCE
Mary Dillon, Novas
David Doherty, coFounder, 3G Doctor
Deirdre Dowdall, HSE Addiction Services
Paul Dunbar, Crosscare
Maura Duggan, Adult Homeless Integrated Team
Claire Dunne, Counselling Psychologist, UCC
Sarah Farrel, Dublin Simon
Mary Fleming, Clinical Lead, Dublin Simon
Graham Gill-Emerson, Addiction Counsellor, Cork Simon
Sinead Grogan, DePaul Charity
Kieran Harkin, GP, Safetynet
Andrew Hudson, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland
Jo-Hanna Ivers, Dublin Region Homeless Executive
Helen Keeling, CAMHS
Dr James Kinahan, Cork University Hospital
Joe Kirby, Cork Local Drug and Alcohol Task Force
Jim Lane, Adult Homeless Integrated Team
Jack Lambert, Mater, Rotunda and UCD
Sharon Lambert, Dept of Psychology, UCC
Stephanie Lordan, Dublin Simon Community
John McCarthy, Adult Homeless Integrated Team
Geoff McCombe, UCD
Peter McCourt, University of Cambridge
Hannah McHugh, UISCE
Regina McQuillan, St Francis Hospice
Stephen Moore, Practice Manager, Luther Street Medical Centre
Blaire Mulvey, GP, South East GP Training Scheme
Austin O’Carroll, Safetynet
David O’Connell, HSE Addiction Services
Patrick O’Donnell, GP, University of Limerick GEMS
Anton Queen, University of Glasgow
Ming Rawat, North Dublin City GP Training
Jess Sears, DePaul Charity
Angie Skuce, Capuchin Day Centre
Amanda Stafford, Emergency Derpt, Royal Perth Hospital
Kashia Stubba, Cork Simon Community

My talk will discuss the opportunities to take a Mobile First approach to help meet the complex challenges of homelessness. It will only be a short session but will introduce the 1 hour online CPD accredited HISI course I’ll be launching at the event titled “mHealth: Helping meet the challenges of Homelessness”.

Key points I’ll be looking to introduce/cover include:

> Why we should think ‘Mobile First’ when designing services to serve homeless populations.
> How mobile can help encourage inclusion and ensure homeless populations stay connected and aren’t left behind.
> How Mobile connectivity can help bridge language barriers and create independence and wealth.
> Mobile Communities and Addiction Treatment programs.
> The opportunity Mobile provides us with to serve immigrant Patients.
> The Mobile opportunities for Mobile Fundraising and Awareness.
> mHealth success stories from around the world.

If you have any ideas or suggestions for my please share them in the comments below and I’ll try to add them.

To register for the meeting click here (this event is CPD accredited).

Unfortunately the call for papers closed in July but if you would like to get involved in the event with sponsorship or a booth etc you can contact the organising team on

*** UPDATE 23 August 2016: A background reading list ***

Some great shares by Claudia Pagliari kick off a recommended reading list:

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CNET: Homeless, not phoneless: The app saving society’s forgotten tech users If you became homeless, would you keep your smartphone? One app offers life-saving guidance, in the recognition that someone might not have a bed but likely still has a phone.

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U.S. Minority Homeless Youth’s Access to and Use of Mobile Phones: Implications for mHealth Intervention Design.

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Journal of Substance Abuse: Factors Associated With Patterns of Mobile Technology Use Among Persons Who Inject Drugs

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Journal of Health Communications: Perceptions, Attitudes, and Experience Regarding mHealth Among Homeless Persons in New York City Shelters.

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UPDATE 24 August 2016: HomelessSMS is interesting SMS based service in development in the Netherlands and UK that was shared by Keith Grimes over in the Linkedin mHealth group:

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Thanks to a nurse colleague (who doesn’t yet have a social media presence!) for this link: STAT: 4 trends in health care that were pioneered in homeless medicine:

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“To make health care more accessible and higher quality, insurers and providers are experimenting with a number of new approaches — from storing patient information in the cloud to opening clinics inside of grocery stores.

Close cousins to many of these tactics, however, were implemented even earlier in the homeless health care system. Homeless patients’ unique characteristics — they frequently have multiple chronic conditions, they move around often — overlap with some of the pressures driving medicine’s evolving care model today. And the cost and time constraints of the homeless revealed the weakness of the health care system before others saw it”

UPDATE 1 September 2016: Handup is interesting app that helps charities to raise funds for homeless individuals online:

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UPDATE 1 September 2016: OurCalling is a non-profit based in Dallas USA that have developed an app that provides an aiding tasks that enables volunteers to lend their ‘knowledge not money’ to  homeless individuals in a quick and easy way.

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Key features of the app include an up to date database of service providers for the poor searchable on a map or by distance from your location (eg. shelters, clinics, food, rehab, etc), calendar listings of volunteer opportunities, etc. One feature I think looks very helpful is how it enables the volunteer network to identify locations for outreach teams to visit: 

A simi

 A similar service is offered in the UK on the StreetLink website. Funded by grants from the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Greater London Authority and the Welsh Governement and is run in partnership between Homeless Link and St Mungo’s.
The website/apps enable the public to alert local authorities in England and Wales about people sleeping rough in their area.
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It’s quite interesting to see that StreetLink are using their Twitter account to try and engage with Pokemon game players to help with this awareness. I wonder how useful this has been or if it’s just intended to get some helpful publicity (Pokemon has been a huge hit with young people in the UK):

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Researching on Twitter and it seems that the popular consensus is that anyone that has an iPhone cannot be homeless:
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I think an important public health message needs to be made to address the issues underlying these prejudices:
  • Practically everyone has a smartphone today in affluent countries (and +2.6 Billion have a second mobile) and we shouldn’t be surprised to see homeless people in European cities with these devices (a Crisis report suggests that the average age of death for homeless in London is just 47 years).
  • Old smartphones are often donated to friends/family as they’re not worth a lot of money
  • Charities that work with the homeless often give them mobile phones to help them stay connected to services/communities. Increasingly Healthcare providers are doing this to help Patients with chronic conditions and the opportunity is obvious when you appreciate that the cost of treating an uncomplicated case of TB can range from £2,000-£50,000 and the failure to complete a course of treatment makes the problem much worse.
  • You cannot live in a smartphone (yes even the latest most expensive one sold by Apple!)
  • Selling your smartphone will be one of the last things someone who has become homeless will do as second hand devices aren’t worth that much money (and certainly not enough to cover a deposit/rent payment) and they offer a lifeline for improving your situation (via your mobile friends and prospective employers can contact you, you can find a hostel, get advice, etc).
  • Maintaining a Smartphone and your online social networks can be very inexpensive (eg. many public areas and libraries now provide free plugs and WiFi)
  • A mobile can be an invaluable life line for someone sleeping rough and it also enables them to provide an invaluable community service eg. reporting crimes and emergencies via 999/112.
  • We need to be less judgemental about how deserving homeless people are as otherwise we just exacerbate the scenario we see today in affluent areas of cities where professional beggars pretend to be homeless by dressing up as caricatures.

I learnt about Dr Susan Partovi from this fascinating STATNews profile:

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The article gives you a feel of the Street Medicine speciality that Dr Partovi is pioneering and it makes it easy to think of the opportunity for Healthcare Professionals to utilise mHealth tools as they care for Patients outside of the conventional clinic environment.

Great to see that Dr Partovi is also using her camera phone to document the care that her organisation is providing. Even in low resource settings the low cost smartphone enables smart passionate medics to help build high quality educational resources for other medics:


Learn more about and find ways to support Dr Susan Partovi’s work by clicking here.

UPDATE 1 September 2016: A colleague sent me the link to The Street Medicine Institute:

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At their annual International Street Medicine Symposium being held in Geneva from the 19th to 22nd of October 2016 there’s not yet any mHealth content. I’ve emailed the Chair (Patrick J. Perri, MD) to see if they’d be interested in adding some or perhaps sharing the course I’m developing here with their delegates:

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A great example of Mobile First innovation from the Indian Government is reported in the Janta Ka Reporter although I think the reporter has misrepresented the intentions of the app (eg. I hope this app appears to be about rescuing homeless at risk people rather than making Complaints about them to move them on):

 Within a fortnight of launching mobile application to rescue homeless people during winter, the Delhi government on Thursday claimed it had rescued 131 people while 30 people had refused to be shifted.

“The total number of complaints recorded through this mobile application and phone calls were 159.  131 were rescued, 18 homeless were not found while 30 had refused to be shifted. Five are currently being attended to,” a Delhi government official said.

A government spokesperson also added that the 20 rescue teams currently on duty had also rescued 1570 people to the ‘nearest shelters since 1 December.’

While announcing the launch of this mobile app on 4 December, Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), had said that users could download the ‘rain-basera’ app and can initiate a rescue operation over the phone by taking a picture and posting it on the app.

The DUSIB server automatically detects the location of the person before informing the nearest rescue team to the location.

A survey conducted in 2014 had said there were about 16,000 homeless people in Delhi with most of them predominantly concentrated in the Walled City area, central Delhi, in several railway stations and bus teminals.

DUSIB has so far created 198 night shelters with a capacity to accommodate 16,338 homeless people.


UPDATE 18 September 2016: The city of San Francisco provides a “SF311 Mobile” service that provides city government services on your mobile enabling reporting of graffiti, street & sidewalk repair, garbage, housing & residential building requests, abandoned vehicles, color curb requests, water / sewer issues, etc.

It’s quite clear it’s being used regularly by citizens to report homeless citizens as a nuisance and it has me wondering if services like this are positive or negative eg. are they helping homeless populations or further driving them away from affluent ‘desirable’ areas into ghettos through the threat of criminalisation?



UPDATE 23 September 2016: I’ve uploaded a draft of the slide deck I’ll be using to Slideshare. Let me know if there’s anything  you think I should add/clarify…

UPDATE 19 July 2017: An excellent TedX talk by Dr Austin o Carroll‏ on Developing Health services for homeless people:

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