We take healthcare to people that are on the margins of society, disengaged and in many cases dehumanised by wider society. Through the HealthBus and allied services, we provide hope and opportunity at the point of need.
We provide: • Immediate GP services and treatment; • Physical and mental health assessments, drug, alcohol and lifestyle advice, prescriptions, blood tests and immunisations. • Referrals to other services such as podiatry, a homelessness nurse, addiction and mental health specialists. • Preventative healthcare for conditions that might develop or worsen, at a cost to the patient's health, if such a person were unable to access regular GP services, thus saving the associated accelerated cost to the NHS of such worsening conditions • Screening tests for treatable diseases • Eye test with an optometrist (a unique service as one would usually need an address to access such a specialist) • Providing education, information and practical assistance on how to treat people who are homeless and rough sleepers • Providing work placement opportunities for medical students, health and social work students and others • Research to identify root causes and solutions
Our drop-in clinic has seen a dramatic positive impact upon the health and wellbeing of the homeless population of Bournemouth. A number of people are living on the streets with underlying health conditions and until accessing the HealthBus, they had not been accessing treatment for them until their condition was acute. We are helping them to maintain their condition and, in some cases, we are aiding their recovery. Our accessible community service also reduces demand on secondary NHS care and other service providers. We are able to work closer with hospital teams to reduce the ‘revolving door’ syndrome that sees individuals going in and out of hospital. This helps reduce demand and frees up resources for the wider community.
We have recently introduced a clothes bank and we also provide a cooked meal to everyone that attends the clinic.
The HealthBus is also supported by an amazing team of volunteers. Some of whom are health professionals themselves.
The HealthBus had 423 appointments in 2019, operating on one morning a week. This equates to over 200 patients.
We register every HealthBus patient with Providence Surgery and as such record every individual's personal details in NHS records. We have informal discussions, carry out questionnaires and when appropriate take case studies and testimonials. We monitor each client's journey, noting every appointment and its outcomes, creating a detailed account of individuals’ progress over time. This allows us to build a very clear picture of the initial need, the support provided and the impact of this in cases where engagement is achieved.
The HealthBus is self-funding and operates thanks to the generosity of others, including donations, grants and fundraising.
A couple of facts: • The Homeless attend A&E six times more than average and when admitted stay three times longer. • Health savings averaged £8000 per person per year for each rough sleeper engaged with specialist homeless primary care. • The annual costs of unscheduled care for homeless people are eight times that of the housed population. • The life expectancy of a homeless person is 30 years less than that of the general population, equating to 47 years for men and 43 years for women. • 70% of single homeless people suffer from personality disorder (more recently called complex trauma), versus about 4% in the general population
Wayne “People here at the HealthBus really care. For the first time in over 30 years I feel hopeful about the future and where I am going and what I am doing. The nurses and doctors are supporting me with my wellbeing and mental health. Coming to St. Stephen’s Hall where the HealthBus is, allows myself and friends to feel welcome and valued. It’s the simple things of being able to chat with someone and having a hot drink that makes all the difference. The HealthBus gives me the chance to rebuild my life whilst accessing essential health support.”
“No one sets out to be purposefully on the streets … sometimes you face situations which just leave you broken and desperate. After losing my job, home and key relationships my mental health deteriorated; and I resorted to harmful substances which drove me to the streets. After lots of encouragement from visiting health professionals I have found hope and compassion from those involved with the HealthBus. This service is a lifeline! A much-needed refuge for those who are vulnerable. The staff and team involved with the HealthBus have saved and are saving lives … this work must continue!”