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New homeless healthcare initiative as figures soar

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Homeless people often suffer mental health Homeless people often suffer mental health conditions, skin disease and HIV

The number of people sleeping rough in London doubled from 2009-2015, as the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) begins a new initiative to improve healthcare for the homeless.

Transition to Homeless Health Nursing is a new self-guided online resource to help nurses who have recently or are considering transferring into caring for homeless patients. It includes safe working practices, risk assessment and details common patient conditions.

READ MORE: Nursing project launched to grapple with homeless health issues

QNI chief executive Dr Crystal Oldman launched the resource at an event attended by nurses and allied health professionals who work with homeless people.

It can be used as a refresher guide for more experienced community nurses, as teaching materials for educators, or learning materials for student nurses looking for a placement or a career move into homeless health nursing.

Homeless health programme manager for the QNI David Parker-Radford said: ‘Excellent nursing care for people who are homeless can only come by learning on the job over time.

READ MORE: Funding for projects to help 'the marginalised in society'

'This resource aims to fill in some of the gaps, speed up the learning process and help develop the confidence of nurses to understand homelessness, work collaboratively, know the current legislation and get involved in policy.

‘I am proud of the work of the nurses in the network who have contributed to making the resource possible and I am sure it will have widespread benefit to professionals who care about giving the best possible care to people facing some of the most difficult challenges in life.’

Common health problems faced by homeless people include mental health conditions, skin diseases, substance addiction, communicable diseases – such as Hepatitis, HIV and Tuberculosis – and muscular skeletal problems.

READ MORE: Nurse-led projects to tackle men's health get funding and guidance

The guidance was developed following a focus group with young homeless people and a survey of the experiences over 80 homeless health nurses, followed by peer review with nurses who have expertise in the area of work.

It is the fourth in a series of QNI learning resources dedicated to helping nurses with the ‘transition’ to community nursing disciplines.

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