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"A journey full of pitfalls"

Tuesday 2 May 2023

"Every morning, I prepare my backpack: bandages, medicines, coffee and hot tea, and then I set off," explains Sandrine Hocquard-Grimm, the Caritas Luxembourg nurse who goes to meet the homeless every day.

"Some days, I have appointments with people to accompany them, to a doctor's surgery for example. On other days, it is the other structures of Caritas Luxembourg that call me for this or that situation. And sometimes, I simply go to meet people on the street. The most difficult thing is to establish this link, this first contact, to succeed in establishing a minimum of trust so that the person accepts to confide in me, accepts my help. Because often, homeless people minimise their health problems. On the street, for them, health is not a priority compared to other basic needs, such as finding a roof over their head for the next night, for example. And yet, this medical follow-up is a necessity! People who spend a long time on the street often accumulate health problems, both physical and psychological. I see a wide variety of things: open wounds, problems linked to poor hygiene, heart and lung diseases, chronic illnesses, but also psychological illnesses such as depressive or psychotic disorders, etc., or even addiction. My role is to treat the most minor problems directly, but also to refer or accompany homeless people to a general practitioner or a specialist depending on the condition they suffer from. I help them to make an appointment and accompany them on the day if they wish," she continues.

Santé Com 2023"It's a difficult path for them. This is also why many give up seeking medical care. Some no longer have social security coverage, others have never had any. Some are afraid of being in a crowded waiting room or simply don't know how to make an appointment. It is a real challenge for them to take care of their health. And yet it is so necessary if they want to survive on the streets," concludes the nurse.

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