People with a history of homelessness are at a high clinical risk of developing severe illness from Covid-19 as they are more likely to suffer from long term health complications such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiac problems and be immunocompromised. Because of this, it is vital that all of us at Harbour take the necessary action and precautions to protect our at-risk clients from contracting Covid.
Since the beginning of the New Year, Harbour’s staff have been getting vaccinated at a swift pace by the NHS; we are very grateful to have been offered the jab as it will help to keep our clients and staff safe across our accommodation, outreach and support services in Cornwall. Our inoculated staff team have increased confidence and the tools they need to work effectively with our client group.
We have also been working to improve our clients’ access to healthcare across our provision. People who experience homelessness can often find it difficult to access medical care (with many even wrongfully denied it) so we ensure that every new client who comes into our service is registered with the GP: last year we supported 82 people to do so. Getting clients registered is the crucial first step in getting them on local GP records and waiting lists to be vaccinated.
As a further measure, we have invested in a rapid in-house testing pathway to help us identify any cases of Covid-19 within our service and tests are available to all beneficiaries, staff and visitors to site who may feel unwell.
The external nurses’ station at Cosgarne Hall has been designated as a Covid self-testing facility and individuals displaying symptoms may administer a test and wait inside for the 15 minutes it takes to produce a result. If positive they will be supported to book a government test and must isolate immediately, and if negative they must continue to monitor symptoms and take another test if appropriate. This system will help us to contain any potential outbreaks and protect all parties.
We are also continuing to observe social distancing, as well as good hygiene practices via wash stations and the use of personal protective equipment across our services. Our thermal imaging CCTV system is also operational in our properties, and continues to measure the temperatures of every visitor to site to ensure no one enters with symptoms.
We are hopeful that these measures will protect our clients and staff from the threat that Covid-19 poses, alongside the extra protection afforded by inoculation.