Being admitted to hospital can often make you feel vulnerable and the thought of going home to be with your family is most likely to be the one thing that gets you through the experience.
So imagine that you have been admitted to hospital and you have no home or family to go back to. Instead of the thought of your own cosy bed, you have nowhere to go, nobody to care for you and you are struggling to cope with life.
Homeless people are one of the most disadvantaged, marginalised and excluded groups in society. The NHS has identified that due to their lifestyle homeless people are admitted into hospital more frequently and have to stay in hospital longer as they have no safe or secure environment to recover in. Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (SDCCG), with this in mind, began working with Derventio Housing last year to look at how these patients could be supported and discharged safely and as a result reduce hospital admissions.
Jackie Carlile, commissioning manager at Southern Derbyshire CCG, said: “The demand for beds continues to be an issue for our hospitals and with A&E still under huge pressure we have to look at how we can alleviate that pressure. By working with Derventio Housing we have been able to support people who need a sustainable package of community care to be safely discharged from hospital.”
So far SDCCG has invested £130,000 into Derventio Housing project which has seen 23 patients supported to find a suitable home. A hospital liaison worker works with the patients and liaises with local authorities to secure suitable accommodation for each individual to be discharged to. When the patient is back at home they are linked with a community worker who provides 12 weeks of intensive support and advocacy to build a network of support around the patient. The project, called Healthy Futures, covers Derby City, South Derbyshire, Amber Valley and South Derbyshire Dales.
Natasha Ramsey, Hospital Liaison Worker for Healthy Futures, said: “I see a wide variety of people with many conditions and needs. We help by putting into place support and help tailored to each individual, such as making sure benefits are in place, support groups for drugs or alcohol and making sure they can get to hospital appointments. The satisfaction in seeing the people we help move on is immeasurable, from being homeless, ill and addicted to drugs or alcohol to being independent and working.”
During the last 12 months the cohort of patients that have been helped by the project has saved the NHS an estimated £195,980 as well as helping the hospital with its flow of patients.
Cornelius Buckley, 47, served in the British Army for 24 years and covered the Falklands, Afghanistan and Bosnia and due to the stress of army life turned to alcohol. After leaving the army, Cornelius’s marriage broke down and he left his wife and two children to come to Derby to be nearer his sister. Over time Cornelius moved around the country often living off the land or taking shelter in disused buildings or barns. Always dependent on alcohol Cornelius developed a chronic liver condition and was admitted many times into different hospitals depending on where he happened to be living at the time.
After giving up alcohol in July last year, Cornelius was admitted into Royal Derby hospital in November, homeless and seriously ill.
“I was told if I got through the night I may have a chance of surviving. And I did. Giving up alcohol so quickly and going cold turkey had a big impact on my body. Ironically not a positive one.”
A hospital liaison worker from Derventio Housing Trust visited Cornelius and assessed his needs and found a suitable flat on the ground floor near his sister and with easy access to city centre, good transport links to the hospital to help him attend regular outpatient appointments. As well as making sure any benefits he is entitled to were in place for Cornelius, the Healthy Futures team also contacted SSAFA, the organisation that supports people who have worked in the forces to provide support.
Cornelius is now settled into his flat and he has been attending all medical appointments independently. With support from the SSFA and Derventio he is following up all benefit claims and although he was put in touch with an alcohol support group he has no desire to drink again.
“It was the light at the end of the tunnel. It was so uplifting when they (Derventio Housing Trust) came to visit me in hospital. I am better, fitter and healthier now and living off £5 a day, making sure I eat fruit and vegetables. I just wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for the help I have received. I just feel strongly that there should be more help for people like me who come out of the forces.”
Cornelius is determined to get fit enough for a liver transplant and hopes once he has recovered he will be able to get a job. As well as completing some Learn Direct courses, Cornelius has made a training video with the NHS about the treatment he has received.
“I am so much better now. I really want to get back out there and get a job and I have absolutely no need for a drink, I really don’t want one.”
For more information about Derventio Housing please visit www.derventiohousing.com
LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FUTURE: Natasha Ramsey, Hospital Liaison Worker for Healthy Futures,with Cornelius.