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Open Access Research article

The impact of direct provision accommodation for asylum seekers on organisation and delivery of local primary care and social care services: A case study

Hans-Olaf Pieper, Pauline Clerkin and Anne MacFarlane*

Author Affiliations

Discipline of General Practice, National University of Ireland, Galway, Galway, Ireland

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BMC Family Practice 2011, 12:32  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-32

Published: 15 May 2011

Abstract

Background

Many western countries have policies of dispersal and direct provision accommodation (state-funded accommodation in an institutional centre) for asylum seekers. Most research focuses on its effect on the asylum seeking population. Little is known about the impact of direct provision accommodation on organisation and delivery of local primary care and social care services in the community. The aim of this research is to explore this issue.

Methods

In 2005 a direct provision accommodation centre was opened in a rural area in Ireland. A retrospective qualitative case study was designed comprising in-depth interviews with 37 relevant stakeholders. Thematic analysis following the principles of framework analysis was applied.

Results

There was lack of advance notification to primary care and social care professionals and the community about the new accommodation centre. This caused anxiety and stress among relevant stakeholders. There was insufficient time to plan and prepare appropriate primary care and social care for the residents, causing a significant strain on service delivery. There was lack of clarity about how primary care and social care needs of the incoming residents were to be addressed. Interdisciplinary support systems developed informally between healthcare professionals. This ensured that residents of the accommodation centre were appropriately cared for.

Conclusions

Direct provision accommodation impacts on the organisation and delivery of local primary care and social care services. There needs to be sufficient advance notification and inter-agency, inter-professional dialogue to manage this. Primary care and social care professionals working with asylum seekers should have access to training to enhance their skills for working in cross-cultural consultations.