Like most frontline health workers, nurses from our Homeless Health service are still working to keep our customers safe.
We spoke to service lead, Jane Morton, from North Staffordshire GP Federation, to find out some adaptions the service has had to make.
1. First of all, how is the service adapting to government advice?
I have spent a lot of time advising managing caseloads remotely to all front-line services to prevent the spread of infection through our customers. We’ve also spent time looking at the
patient’s medical history to identify those most at risk due to underlying health issues and placed in isolation.
Many of our customers are staying in hotels across the city, thanks to funding by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, I am making regular visits there. I’m trying to provide advice throughout the hotel and all accommodation providers, as well as linking in with the Council. We are providing equipment for them to manage their wounds where we can.
2. What adjustments have had to be made for social distancing measures?
I have been provided with PPE for my welfare and I will only be working from both the Community Outreach Vehicle and the treatment room at Stoke Salvation Army. I can clean these areas and make sure the place is safe to do so.
The Community Outreach Vehicle is cleaned between each person – and thoroughly at the end of the day. Before entering the vehicle, customers are asked to declare any symptoms, their temperature is checked, and they’re provided with hand sanitizer. If they have symptoms of COVID-19 they are encouraged to self-isolate and make contact with NHS 111. If treatment is required for other conditions they can still be seen.
3. About social distancing, how can the public help if they spot someone sleeping rough that they think may need healthcare?
It all depends on how severe. if they appear very poorly contact 999 or contact RST who will signpost to my next clinic/availability window.
4. So, for a rough sleeper, the healthcare is still there, if the correct measures are followed?
Yes, in line with all other healthcare providers.
If they have symptoms of COVID-19, they are advised to self-isolate and contact 111 or 999 depending on the severity of their symptoms.
If they contact the Brighter Futures Rough Sleeper Team, they will be placed by them accordingly. We are aiming to make sure that everyone has a mobile phone so they can get access to support if they need it.
5. What steps have been explained to customers about symptoms, how to manage it, and to keep them safe?
We have shared an information leaflet with them, and they’re being reminded whenever contact is made via Brighter Futures services or partner agencies.
6. These measures are changing daily – how are these being communicated between services?
This can be an issue if not co-ordinated properly, so we’ve put in a system where people who are working from home at contactable and measures are put in place for them to do their roles safely. Other methods of communication are available through telephone etc.
7. Would your advice in this situation – simply be to stay away – or would you suggest other measures too?
Keep increasing hygiene methods where possible. Wipes etc have been issued to service staff and frontline workers. I have discussed sharing equipment and cigarettes with people and to avoid it where possible.
All photos taken by Stoke Sentinel.