Birmingham St Mary’s is today (Sep 21) launching a service that will ensure the city’s homeless population receives high quality palliative and end of life care, along with bereavement support that is tailored to their needs.
The hospice’s new Homelessness Support service will work with other organisations supporting people who are homeless, including third sector organisations and NHS teams to grow their understanding and confidence to support homeless people. The team will also provide direct care and advice to individuals and to those close to them.
Tailored care and education
Two experienced Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice staff will deliver the service: a Clinical Homelessness Link Nurse will be supporting NHS teams, setting up an educational programme for providers and working with hostels in the city to facilitate care for their residents.
A Homelessness Social Worker will work closely with third sector organisations, providing training sessions and helping them establish bereavement peer networks. The social worker will also act as a specialist end of life palliative care advisor to their clients.
The programme is a pilot that will initially run for 2 years, with funding from the Eveson Charitable Trust and three other funders.
The needs of Birmingham’s homeless
Sharon Hudson, Community Development and Partnerships Lead, who is leading the service, explained further: “We know that Birmingham has the third highest population of people who are homeless in the UK, and that many of that population die prematurely not as a direct result of being homeless but because of complex life-limiting illnesses. Sadly, people who are homeless often experience barriers when accessing healthcare and support services, so they are often diagnosed, if at all, at a very late stage.
“Recognising this need we designed a service to empower providers to recognise the palliative, end of life care and bereavement support needs of people who are homeless in our city, and to develop the skills to support them. We’ve had success using a similar model with care homes and have seen the huge difference it can make individuals and their close networks.
“Our mission as a hospice is ‘hospice care for everyone’, no matter who they are or where they are. This is a much needed service for people in our city, and myself and the team are very keen to get started.”
- Read Hospice UK’s joint report on delivering care to people experiencing homelessness on Care Committed to Me