A street nurse service for homeless people
Monday 11 January 2021
Since November, a team of nurses from Caritas Luxembourg has been crisscrossing the streets of the capital to help the homeless. They are also on duty at the Wanteraktioun.
The aim of this new project, supported by the Œuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte and by private donations, is to help people living on the streets to become aware of the importance of taking care of their health and hygiene. Today, with the Covid-19 health crisis, this is all the more important. Many people living on the street have not had any medical care for years, need medical treatment, but are suspicious, do not dare to ask for help or do not know where to go for help. Many of them no longer even have the feeling of their own body and let situations that could have been easily controlled with care get worse. Finally, unfortunately, most people living on the street often have more than one illness and are therefore particularly vulnerable.
The project goes beyond simple nursing care such as treating a wound. It is first of all about gaining the trust of people living on the street, raising their awareness of the different health and hygiene issues that concern them, getting them to pay attention to the signs their body is sending them, gradually restoring their confidence in the health system and, if they wish, accompanying them in their efforts to seek care. The community health project team works with a network of associations, social workers, doctors and other health professionals. Indeed, access to care for homeless people is often fraught with obstacles: some no longer have social security coverage, others have never had it, some homeless people are afraid of finding themselves in a crowded waiting room, some professionals are afraid that homeless people will drive away their other clients, etc. The mission of the Caritas Luxembourg team is to create all the conditions for the homeless person to be able to receive treatment in complete serenity, to regain confidence in the medical system and to make them want to continue their medical treatment.
Since its launch a few weeks ago, around 100 people have been met and 20 are being followed up regularly. A large part of the questions are of course about Covid-19, but not only. The therapeutic follow-up and care cover all the problems that homeless people may encounter, including mental illness. For Caritas Luxembourg, street nurse work is important.
It is easier to accept help than to ask for it," says Laurie Gatley, who is in charge of the project.
"Hence the importance of going to the street, where the homeless people are, rather than having them come to us. »
"At the same time," stresses Laurie Gatley, "our wish is to develop this expertise of street nurse in Luxembourg, which does not yet exist, unlike in our neighbouring countries, but which is essential if we want homeless people to be able to benefit from comprehensive care and have access to health care."