Street Healthcare support for homeless people
The aim of this project, supported by the Œuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte and by private donations, is to help people living in the street to become aware of the importance of taking care of their health and hygiene. This is why a team of nurses from Caritas Luxembourg has been criss-crossing the streets of the capital since November 2020.
Today, with the Covid-19 health crisis, this is all the more important. Many people on the streets have not had any medical care for years, and need to be treated, but are suspicious, don't dare to ask for help or don't know where to go for help. Many of them no longer even have the feeling of their own bodies and let situations that could have been easily controlled with care get worse. Finally, unfortunately, most people living rough 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 strewn with hurdles: some people 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 clientele, 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 want to continue their medical treatment.
Since its launch, many people have already been met. A large number of them are being followed up regularly. 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, the street nurse's work is important.
"IT IS EASIER TO ACCEPT HELP THAN TO ASK FOR IT,"
says Laurie Gatley, in charge of the project.
That's why it's important to go out into 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 in Luxembourg this expertise in healthcare support for homeless people, 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."