Access to primary healthcare is often difficult for those experiencing homelessness. This can be due to reduced accessibility if someone doesn’t have a permanent address or struggles to access transport to attend appointments. In addition, homeless individuals generally do not make their physical and mental health a priority, often because people can be overwhelmed by the situation they are in. Arc have been working alongside Taunton Vale Healthcare, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Somerset County Council, Somerset West and Taunton Council, and Public Health (Somerset) to address the wider issue of healthcare inequalities for those experiencing homelessness, creating a Somerset-wide discussion to tackle the problem.
At Arc, we are always looking for ways we can further assist the local homeless community and wanted to begin to address the lack of accessible healthcare for these vulnerable members of our society. By creating our very own in-house GP surgery with a range of facilities, and though a dedicated GP who regularly attends, we are able to provide a wider variety of healthcare to those experiencing homelessness at our main hostel. By having these facilities on site, fewer patients are referred elsewhere for treatment, causing reduced pressure on the NHS. In addition, health issues are often addressed faster, meaning that the condition is not able to escalate into something more serious. The GP surgery also allows for the provision of preventative treatments and worked as a base for ensuring our clients received their Covid vaccinations, as well as annually offering flu vaccines.
The GP surgery was just the beginning of Arc’s plan to create their wellbeing hub, the Reach Centre. This multi-purpose building has been designed as a safe space where external agencies can meet one-on-one with clients to provide further healthcare, including chiropody, mental health, and sexual health, as well as support with other issues they may face, such as addiction, finances, and employment. You can read more about the Reach Centre here.