Homeless people in Rochdale are getting vital protection against flu this year thanks to the efforts of volunteer health workers who visit the Champness Hall soup kitchen on Drake Street.
The sessions using vaccinations donated by local practices are held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings as part of the routine health monitoring, support and advice service delivered there by the Homeless Alliance Response Team, or HART.
The volunteer service was set up last year using a one off allocation of £50,000 given to organisers Rochdale Healthcare Alliance from Heywood Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group. A further £10,000 has been awarded to continue the vital service for this vulnerable group, who can have complex physical and mental health needs. Dozens of GPs, nurses, allied health professionals including therapists, clinical pharmacists and mental health workers have all volunteered to offer their clinical services to support the scheme.
Middleton GP and Chair of Rochdale Health Alliance, Dr Mo Jiva, said;
“Our flu vaccination sessions will help to protect this at risk group from serious illness and worse. Because of transient lifestyles homeless people are more susceptible to the harm that flu can cause. Unfortunately there are increasing numbers of people in the borough who are homeless and live transient lifestyles who often also have substance misuse, mental health and dependency problems. These chaotic lifestyles means that many rarely access health services at traditional venues like GP surgeries. Our scheme takes the health care and support to them in venues where and when they regularly attend. “
Jackie Taylor, Head of Clinical Services at Rochdale Health Alliance said;
“We are heartened at the response we have had from the homeless community who really value this service. We have seen a variety of health needs and wound care seems to be particularly needed. We are playing an important role in minimising the need for homeless people to visit the urgent care centre and other services when they don’t need to. HART is now partnering with the Greater Manchester mayor’s ‘a bed every night’ programme in support of health needs for homeless people in the Rochdale borough.’
There are now 63 homeless people who are seen by HART volunteers on a regular basis and these are supported and signposted signpost to other services as needed.
The free service includes;
- Face to face advice and assessments
- Health screening such as blood pressure and pulse testing
- Measuring weight
- Medication and prescription reviews
- Wound care
- Mental health screening
- Drug and alcohol screening
The scheme will also offer the individuals a ‘healthcare passport’, to be carried by the individual, which contains a brief medical summary, with details such as vaccination dates, to help other health and social care providers.
If you are a healthcare professional and wish to find out more about how you can volunteer to join the HART scheme, please contact Jackie Taylor, Head of Clinical Services, Rochdale Health Alliance on firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of ambitious plans to help tackle rough sleeping in the city region, the Bed Every Night initiative has been launched to provide accommodation for every single person who sleeps rough in Greater Manchester. Members of the public can make donations at www.bedeverynight.co.uk, where they can also track the progress of fundraising.