Leicester students offer healthcare support to the homeless

Posted by ap507 at Dec 09, 2014 11:33 AM |
Volunteer programme building on North American model to offer medical care for those most in need in the city

Medical students have designed and developed a response system to help support homeless people in Leicester.

The project, led by Professor Liz Anderson (pictured) with support from Dr Robyn Goodier, involved medical students working jointly with academic staff and has resulted in the establishment of a charity called Project LIGHT (Leicester Initiative Good Health Team), which has been commended for encouraging partnership between students and academics.

One-in-three rough sleepers have an untreated health condition which they often ignore until their condition deteriorates and forces them to seek emergency medical care. The students found that many homeless people avoid going to current services provided, but 90 per cent would welcome clinical services from students, according to new research published in the Journal of Interprofessional Care.

The students conducted a three week study of structured interviews with members of Leicester’s homeless community to assess the need for such a service. They found that the majority of individuals surveyed had serious health problems and welcomed student support, with 61 per cent requesting a fixed location.

As a result of the initiative, each month students work together to deliver a health promotion session in one of the city’s hostels. Students are responsive to the needs of the residents and these sessions have included some of the following: smoking cessation, basic first aid, harm reduction with alcohol and drugs, and sexual health.

The project was recently commended by the Higher Education Academy as a worthy example of partnership work between staff and students. The students are also working with Inclusion Healthcare Social Enterprise and other charities, and have also received support from international student volunteering groups in Canada.