Terminally ill people living with homelessness will be afforded a dignified death after Dr Kershaw’s Hospice in Oldham became the first UK hospice to pledge to care for rough sleepers.
The charity has promised to become Homeless-Friendly and examine its policies and procedures to make sure they cater for those of no fixed abode. That includes tracking-down relatives of homeless people in their care.
After signing the pledge, it struck up a partnership with Royton Medical Centre to ensure that seriously ill patients experiencing the heartache of homelessness could be cared for at the hospice.
“The average life-expectancy of a rough sleeper is just 47 years, and those living on our streets or in temporary accommodation experience dangerous health problems such as heart and respiratory illness” said Dr Zahid Chauhan, founder of the Homeless-Friendly charity, which encourages organisations to provide appropriate services for those without an address.
“We can now ensure that people’s end of life treatment is compassionate – especially as compassion may have been something they have been sorely lacking from others in society during their lives.”
The number of homeless people dying on the streets has risen by a quarter in the last five years. One of the reasons rough sleepers fail to get medical care is that many believe they can’t register with a GP – due to their lack of address. Homeless-Friendly has been dismissing this myth and now has pledgers promising to care for those experiencing homelessness all over Greater Manchester and beyond.
As part of the programme, Dr Kershaw’s has received training on dealing with people experiencing homelessness, which even includes examining whether after a life-time of sleeping rough, service users might be better without a bed.
Adele Doherty, Clinical Matron, said: “At Dr Kershaws Hospice we are committed to addressing inequalities in end of life care, this is an exciting opportunity to walk in partnership with Dr Chauhan and Royton Medical Practice.
“Having signed the Homeless-Friendly Pledge, this enables us to be fully engaged with helping meet the needs of homeless people for palliative and end of life care.
Staff at the hospice are involved in bespoke training facilitated by Gail Sutcliffe, Homeless Friendly Co-ordinator. Ultimately, we are delighted to be able to be the first hospice nationally that is recognised as Homeless-Friendly.”
Dr Chauhan concluded: “My aim when creating this programme was to see a whole society change in how we treat people who are homeless. I am delighted so many surgeries, hospitals, out-of-hours services, charities, local authorities, businesses and now hospices are coming on-board. I hope Dr Kershaw’s example will spur on others offering end-of-life care to become Homeless-Friendly, too.”
For more information visit Homeless-Friendly