Community nurses have ‘essential role’ to help end rough sleeping, reveals QNI survey

Charity highlights street-based nursing care initiative to improve the health of the homeless 

Charity highlights street-based nursing care initiative to improve the health of the homeless 

Picture: iStock

Community nurses need to be involved in developing health plans for homeless people in their locality, a new survey has revealed. 

The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) believes the findings of its – as yet unpublished – survey of the 1,500 members of the organisation's Homeless Health Programme demonstrate community nurses should be given a major role in delivering the recently announced government strategy to end rough sleeping by 2027.

The charity says service commissioners should involve nurses with knowledge and experience of providing care to homeless people when drawing up the local health plans recommended in the strategy – because these nurses play ‘an essential role’ in delivering care.

‘Prevent people’s health deteriorating’

The full survey results will be published in October and also include calls for improvements in service capacity and quality, healthcare access and education of NHS staff.

The QNI’s Homeless Health Programme manager David Parker-Radford said: ‘Well-resourced and coordinated community-based health services, including mental health and substance misuse, are necessary to prevent people’s health deteriorating to the point of needing emergency hospital admission.

‘Our nurses also identified that better collaboration between professionals locally could help prevent people falling through gaps.

‘Connect patients to care’

‘Central to this is a right to GP registration, as well more work done to connect patients to care – either through patient transport to appointments or street-based nursing care.’

A major area identified in the government strategy is a pledge to do more to help people with mental health and drug addiction problems who are sleeping rough.

Mr Parker-Radford particularly welcomes the strategy’s promising of training for front-line staff on how to help people under the influence of the artificial cannabinoid Spice.

Nurses’ concerns

He added: ‘Nurses have constantly raised with us the dangers of Spice and its increasing use in the homeless population. The drugs are cheap to acquire, highly addictive and require specialist urine testing to detect.

‘We hope training also enables health professionals to share more information with patients about the risks, harms and dangers of Spice.’

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