A doctors’ surgery has won a six-figure charity grant for a life-saving project aimed at improving health care for homeless people in Brighton and Hove.
News of the award from the Health Foundation comes a year after 36 people died while homeless in Brighton and Hove.
The grant has been awarded to the specialist homeless surgery Arch Health, in Morley Street, Brighton. Arch was rated outstanding last year by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The surgery will work with a number of partners such as Brighton University over three years on what has been called “a large-scale patient participation project”.
Arch chief executive and project chairman Gary Bishop said: “We are delighted to be able to launch this vital project and grateful for the award of funding from the Health Foundation.
“This is a unique opportunity for our city to reduce suffering and save lives among Brighton and Hove’s homeless population.
“It means we will have resources to really understand, from a patient view, where the system and services are performing well and where we can work together to make improvements.
“All project partners are committed to creating a health system that really works for people who are experiencing homelessness.”
Arch and Brighton University will work with Justlife, a charity that helps prevent people living in temporary accommodation from falling into rough sleeping by addressing their health, housing and wellbeing needs.
They will be joined by the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and local public health officials.
Their project is part of the Health Foundation’s Common Ambition programme. The foundation said: “We invited partnerships between the voluntary and community sector and the NHS to apply for our Common Ambition programme and offered funding of £300,000 to £500,000 for two to three years.
“We want to support partnerships to make improvements to health care services which are driven by members of the public working collaboratively with health care professionals.
“We believe that voluntary and community sector organisations are vital to this type of collaboration because of their ability to harness the knowledge and skills in the community.
“Therefore, we are funding partnerships between the NHS and voluntary and community sector organisations, such as charities and social enterprises.”
The foundation hopes that the Brighton project team’s findings can be shared with other organisations around the country.
Brighton University principal lecturer Mary Darking, the project’s academic lead, said: “This project is crucial to our city where so many of us feel frustrated and deeply saddened by the suffering that people experience while homeless.”
Dr Darking said: “To be involved in improving these vital health services over the next three years is a huge privilege, particularly given the commitment to ensuring that the project is driven by the voices and needs of those experiencing homelessness.”
Arch Health said: “Even where excellent services exist, the needs of people experiencing homelessness are not well met.
“This is because the time needed to address their health issues (the severity of need can make for slow progress) means that people experiencing homelessness can get ‘lost’ in the system, or at the transition points between services.
“This is true in Brighton and Hove, despite the steps taken to improve homeless healthcare.
“Arch clinicians and Justlife support workers report feedback from people experiencing homelessness that while individual services are of a very high standard, the overall local health service is complex, disjointed, inflexible, inadequate for the needs presented and ultimately very difficult to navigate.
“Arch patients often offer insights on how this can be improved. More formally accessing the voice and experience of those with lived experience of homelessness will enable us to work collectively to improve the health systems available, including transition points between services.
“We know this can work – co-production of mental health services with patients has been shown to improve health services.”
Justlife chief executive Simon Gale said: “We passionately believe people who have experienced homelessness are best placed to ensure that health services aimed to help them are designed and delivered in the most effective way.
“We look forward to getting started and seeing the impact it has.”
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