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Homelessness in health: In praise of Brighton’s homeless health services!

  • 2 min read |
  • Posted by Jules, Health Engagement Worker
  • On 06 April 2022

In aid of World Health Day, I would like to celebrate Brighton’s homeless health services and the incredible work they do day in, day out.

I’ve been a Health Engagement Worker at Justlife for 6 months, and one thing that has struck me is the quality of care provided by Arch Healthcare GP and the homeless health inclusion team (outreach homeless nurses).

Trauma-informed and non-judgemental care

Discrimination and exclusion are common experiences within the homeless community, as such patients often face perceived as well as real judgement from people across society, which can sometimes include other health professionals unfortunately. On top of this, some patients have faced trauma that can affect their access and experience of healthcare services, for example physical abuse.

The doctors and nurses that make up local health services understand this and treat their patients without judgement, and with respect and dignity. This not only strengthens trust between our clients and health services, which can sometimes be quite strained, but can also help develop self-esteem. It is also worth noting they help build confidence and self-esteem by really listening and taking on board patients’ concerns that can otherwise sometimes be disregarded.

Unfaltering & adaptable approach to homeless health and wellbeing

Homeless patients sometimes struggle to engage with health for various reasons, which can range from psychological barriers such as fear and mistrust, to very practical issues such as no access to transport to physically get to their appointments; as a result, they can be late to appointments or often miss them altogether. Staff within homeless health services understand this and adapt to their needs, resulting in outstanding and life-saving care.

Additionally, homeless health services provide solid and consistent advocacy for patients in other contexts such as housing, benefits, and other parts of the NHS. They are true allies to their patients and put not only their needs, but their goals at the centre of the work they do.

Resilience in challenging settings

Finally, it’s worth drawing attention to the buckets of resilience staff within these teams demonstrate. As a result of being homeless and all of the stress and trauma that comes with it, patients can be very challenging; be it in their behaviour or through the traumatic histories they impart. The medical and administrative staff witness pain and suffering and still go to work every day with patience and a willingness to help and provide care.

So, I’d like to say a MASSIVE thank you to Arch Healthcare and the Homeless Health Inclusion Team.

Our health engagement teamfacilitate better access to professional treatment for mental and physical issues, supporting people experiencing homelessness in meeting their necessary health needs and reducing hospital admissions.