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Marking 12 months of supporting the palliative homeless community across the West Midlands

24 November 2021

Our Homelessness Support Service has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 2020, supporting members of the homeless community in Birmingham as well as local charities. Hannah Warwick, our Palliative Care Social Worker, reflects on the project’s many achievements and looks ahead to the next six months.

Hannah says: “We are now more than a year into our project and have developed good relationships with individuals in this time. We have seen many moves from rough sleeping, to hostels, to shared accommodation to care homes and assisted living.”

The team has supported the palliative homeless community with pain relief, referrals to health professionals, dressing sores, provided transformational medical support and bereavement support. They have also helped with accessing clothing, shoes, food bank deliveries, accessing local services, shaves and grooming, arranging fishing trips and so much more.

Hannah adds: “We have developed good working relationships with local professional in housing and health.

“We are also delighted to have now completed our Palliative Homeless Support Training Programme for those in the local area.  This has been undertaken extremely well and we have received positive and constructive feedback. We are encouraged to see a shift in how teams are identifying individuals of concern and are considering Advanced Ill Health rather than a fixed Palliative Diagnosis.

“New services are currently being developed across NHS UHB and Birmingham City Council for an out of hospital care model for hospital discharge planning. We continue to be involved in planning meetings and train new staff to identify individuals with complex advanced ill health. We now have an established a rota of attendance at significant Primary Care Teams Gold Standard Framework meetings and Palliative Case Reviews.

“We also regularly attend local groups to discuss housing issues across the council with wider agencies. On a political level we were able to submit evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Terminal Illness’s inquiry into Housing and fuel poverty and the end of life. We were delighted to speak at the Hospice UK Conference, this allows us to keep our focus and awareness of all current affairs, we received excellent feedback from our presentation of the service, the session was live streamed and recorded meaning it can reach even more people.”

Looking ahead to the next 6 months

Hannah says: “Further to this we hope to engage with other key Primary Care Practice covering hostels and frontline service areas for the support of individuals experiencing homelessness. We are collaborating with the South Doc Service paramedic facilitator to share our service, provide training and raise awareness of the service to paramedics, GP’s, Nurses and service managers across Birmingham and Sandwell in 2022.

“Following on from this we look to roll out again our Palliative Homeless Support Training Programme. Including attending Birmingham City Council training to all frontline staff raising awareness of the complex needs of individuals who are homeless to support better care. As this is rolled out across services we look to further add our own content.

“We are hoping to submit a case study to NHS England and NHS Improvement to show how we improved access to community palliative and end of life services for the homeless.

“On a local level, we want to expand our bereavement drop in sessions from Moseley Exchange to also be at a regular basis at Sifa Fireside. We will also continue to provide direct clinical work for those experiencing homelessness and advanced ill –health.”

Thank you for sharing this Hannah, and a huge congratulations to yourself and the rest of the Palliative Homeless Support Service Team for your incredible achievements so far.