The Hastings Homeless Service supports marginalised members of the community who find it difficult to access NHS services in the Hastings area.
The service provides general healthcare and first aid provision, as well as mental health support and therapeutic listening. The service usually runs four nurse clinics per week in a day centre (with podiatry twice a week), and a health outreach service one evening a week at a soup kitchen. The service is committed to finding ways to take vital healthcare to vulnerable people who fall through the cracks in the system.
In October 2019, the service 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. This film is a really great example of how the real essence of an inclusion health service can be captured, and explained in few short minutes, in order to support commissioning decisions / funding applications.
Changes to the service during Covid
During Covid, the service found itself unable to use its usual premises for seeing clients. Fortuitously, it had just acquired a mobile treatment centre (an ambulance) which was already being prepared to use for a new outreach.
Instead it was swiftly mobilised for use as a mobile wound care clinic, for the clients it was already seeing regularly for leg ulcer care. The service has since received referrals for 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 the men seen on the ambulance for wound care, who was referred by A&E after parasuicidal actions, was still rough sleeping despite ‘Everyone In’ measures. He hadn’t seen a nurse or GP for at least two years, despite having chronic bilateral leg ulcers. Despite being reasonably ambulant, he had been unable to walk the considerable distance to where the treatment centre was stationed in the past. With the new ambulance, the Hastings service was able to take the vehicle to him twice/week to dress his ulcers. He engaged well, a good rapport was quickly built, and as a result he has since been linked into housing and substance misuse services. He is now housed in a beautiful flat with a sea view, and is now back on a methadone script, something he was desperate to resume. With these changes of lifestyle and accompanying improvement in nutrition, healthy weight gain is evident and his leg ulcers are healing so well that he is now just seen weekly. Best of all, he’s like a ‘new man’: happy, settled, frequently taking the mickey out of the staff and making them laugh! A far cry from the man who barely wanted to live just a few months ago. By adopting a proactive, flexible, innovative and person-centred approach, a turnaround from complete disengagement to full engagement with services was achieved, and the client’s own goals have been attained.
Contact Nurse Co-ordinator, Roger Nuttall for further info: [email protected]Back to Resources