In October 2019, the Hastings Homeless Service, a nurse-led, primary healthcare service run by St John Ambulance, won a Community Hero award at the prestigious Everyday Heroes ceremony in London, with special recognition of Sandy Collver, Volunteer Lead Nurse.

To coincide with this, an excellent short film, “This is your St John Ambulance – Hastings Homeless Service” was made, which can be viewed here.

The service is committed to finding ways to take vital healthcare to vulnerable people who fall through the cracks in the system. As lockdown set in, we found ourselves unable to use our usual premises for seeing clients. Fortuitously, we’d just acquired a mobile treatment centre which we were preparing to use for a new outreach initiative later in the year. Instead it was swiftly mobilised (pardon the pun) for use as a mobile wound care clinic for the clients we see regularly (in full PPE, of course) for leg ulcer care.

Since then, we’ve received referrals for three other homeless or ex-homeless men with leg ulcers who had disengaged with services and/or who had found GP services even harder to access than usual during Covid-19 restrictions.

One of these men, who was referred by A&E after parasuicidal actions, was still rough sleeping despite “everyone in” measures and hadn’t seen a nurse or GP for at least two years, despite having chronic bilateral leg ulcers. For other health reasons he was unable to walk the (quite long) distance to where the treatment centre was stationed, so we took the vehicle to him twice/week to dress his ulcers. He engaged well, we quickly built a good rapport and as a result were able to link him up with housing and substance misuse services.

He is now housed in a beautiful flat with a sea view and is back on a methadone script, something he was desperate to resume. We continue to see him twice/week, he is happy and settled, and the leg ulcers are healing well.

By adopting a proactive, innovative and person-centred approach, a turnaround from complete disengagement to full engagement with services was achieved, with the client’s own goals being successfully attained.

More information about the Hastings Homeless Service can also be found in our 2019 End of Year Report, or by contacting Nurse Co-ordinator, Roger Nuttall [email protected]

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