As people across the UK come together to help each other through the coronavirus pandemic, the St Luke’s team has been supporting those caring for Sheffield’s vulnerable homeless population.
After adapting its building, protocols and services to shield staff and offer a safe environment for patients and visitors, we are supporting city organisations working with the homeless to take similar precautions by sharing best practice and advice.
Working in conjunction with Sheffield City Council and Sheffield’s Clinical Commissioning Group - the body responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services in the city - we have delivered online advice sessions on how to safely support rough sleepers and homeless people in sheltered, supported and temporary accommodation during the pandemic.
Using specialised video conferencing technology, we have been able to give practical advice to other service providers on everything from the correct use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to hand washing, social distancing, setting up isolation areas, and other infection prevention and control issues.
This work extends use of this technology (Project ECHO) brought to Sheffield and developed across the city by St Luke’s since 2018.
Supporting the city’s homeless population during this time is particularly challenging as many are at increased risk of catching coronavirus, but the circumstances of providing a protective environment makes social distancing and the safety of staff very difficult.
“St Luke’s has already successfully used ECHO to deliver additional support and share knowledge about coronavirus to nursing and care homes across Sheffield,” said our Clinical and Quality Risk Lead, Annie Armitage.
“Knowing how successful the technology is in reaching out to other organisations and communities facing difficult situations, we recognised that the homeless are a particularly vulnerable group who need extra support at this time, and we have been very happy to help.
“We have been able to advise on the most up-to-date information, such as interpreting PPE guidelines for their sites, infection control best practice for staff and clients, and a whole host of other issues relevant to the situations providers may find themselves in.
“Having developed our own protocols for patients, visitors and staff - including implementing social distancing, shielding, heightened infection control processes, and effective detection and monitoring of symptoms - we were able to offer our expertise in setting up systems to ensure that people using services and the staff at those sites feel safe and supported throughout the pandemic.
“This is an outstanding example of how organisations are coming together at this most difficult time to share their knowledge and experience. St Luke’s is very proud to help fellow care and support workers by sharing knowledge in the fight against coronavirus.”