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Dr Kershaw's becomes first hospice in the UK to become homeless friendly

Date published: 03 May 2019


Homeless people living with a terminal illness are now going to be offered services by Dr Kershaw's hospice in Oldham.

The charity, which also offers tailored services to those living with life-limiting conditions, has promised to become Homeless-Friendly and examine its policies and procedures to make sure they cater for those of no fixed abode. 

That includes tracking-down relatives of homeless people in their care.

Within minutes of signing a pledge to that effect, it struck up a partnership with Royton Medical Centre to ensure that seriously ill patients experiencing the heartache of homelessness, could be cared for at the Hospice.

Dr Zahid Chauhan founder of the charity said, “The average life-expectancy of a rough sleeper is just 47 years-of-age and those living on our streets or in temporary accommodation experience dangerous health problems such as heart and respiratory illness.

We can now ensure that people's end of life treatment is compassionate especially as compassion may have been something they have been sorely lacking from others in society during their lives.”

The number of homeless people dying on the streets has risen by a quarter in the last five years.

One of the reasons rough sleepers fail to get medical care is that many believe they can't register with a GP due to their lack of address. 

Homeless-Friendly has been dismissing this myth and now has pledgers promising to care for those experiencing homelessness all over Greater Manchester and beyond. 

As part of the programme, Dr Kershaw's has received training on dealing with people experiencing homelessness, which even includes examining whether after a life-time of sleeping rough, service users might be better without a bed.

Adele Doherty, Clinical Matron, said, “At Dr Kershaws Hospice we are committed to addressing inequalities in end of life care, this is an exciting opportunity to walk in partnership with Dr Chauhan and Royton Medical Practice.

Having signed the Homeless Friendly Pledge, this enables us to be fully engaged with helping meet the needs of homeless people for palliative and end of life care."

Staff at the Hospice are involved in bespoke training facilitated by Gail Sutcliffe, Homeless Friendly Co-ordinator. 

She said, "Ultimately, we are delighted to be able to be the first Hospice nationally that is recognised as homeless friendly.”

Dr Chauhan concluded, “My aim when creating this programme was to see a whole society change in how we treat people who are homeless. I am delighted so many surgeries, hospitals, out-of-hours services, charities, local authorities, businesses and now hospices are coming on-board.

I hope Dr Kershaw's example will spur on others offering end-of-life care to become Homeless-Friendly, too.”

To visit the Homeless-Friendly website click here.


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