New project has helped improve the health of homeless people in Derry

‘Homelessness Transformation Project’ has continued during the pandemic

New project has helped improve the health of homeless people in Derry

Podiatrist Gareth Cullen and nurse Michelle Doyle have been leading the project.

A new project is having a big impact on improving the health of homeless people in the city.

The Western Trust initiated a ‘Homelessness Transformation Project’ in late 2019 and the team have continued during the Covid-19 Pandemic on this important work.

Approximately 300 people are considered homeless in the Derry area and thanks to charitable work from a number of local organisations, there are currently no rough sleepers in the West.

Paula Devine, Locality Services Manager Community Nursing, has confirmed the successful rollout of the project to date.

“The Trust Homelessness Transformation Project began in late 2019 with the main aim of improving access to services for this client group in the Derry/Londonderry area, to identify their health needs and improve their health outcomes. Specific needs include podiatry, long term conditions, mental health and addictions.

“There are currently over 300 people in this area who are considered homeless including those who are residing in hostels, temporary accommodation and who are ‘sofa surfers’.

“Thanks to the fantastic work of local charitable organisations in the area there are currently no rough sleepers in the West.”

In 2019, a multidisciplinary group which included members from the Western Trust and Department Of Health (DoH) assessed services accessed by people experiencing homelessness in Derry.

This identified a need for more accessible services which are tailored to the needs of this group of people who have poor health outcomes particularly regarding specialist nurse and general practice. 

The Western Trust also provided within this dedicated podiatry sessions, which have been well-received and met need in this group who have higher than average lower limb problems.

Included as part of this project, the Western Trust commenced a pilot of a Nurse Practitioner and podiatry service in Derry to:

- Improve access to general practice, specialist nurse and podiatry services.

- Improve liaison between Emergency Department (ED) and Primary Care.

- Audit the pathway and access to services for patients who do not wait to be seen in ED.

- Improve discharge arrangements from all areas of the hospital.

- Developing positive relationships and protocols with statutory, community and voluntary providers.

- Support hospital colleagues to ensure optimization of outcomes for service users e.g. working in a multi-disciplinary way with other teams such as substance misuse service.

- Work collaboratively with colleagues in other Trusts to share learning and evaluate impact together

Podiatrist Gareth Cullen commenced on January 14, 2020, and Nurse, Michelle Doyle, commenced on February 10, 2020.

Gareth has had contact now with over 100 service users, offering detailed podiatry assessment which includes neuro and vascular foot assessment, assessment of skin and nail pathologies leading to risk stratification for foot ulceration and potential for foot disease/complications.

Michelle has been scoping the current cohort within the local population, and has so far identified over 300 clients who are homeless and have a need for additional support for their health and social care needs.

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