“This is the best day of the year at Arch” says Dr Tal Lewin of Arch. Others were heard to say: “The energy here is incredible”, “I feel so passionate about my job now”, “All the speakers are so knowledgeable”, “I can’t believe this was free – we’re very lucky”.
Arch CEO, Gary Bishop says “We love it because for one day we get to live our dream for the future – all the homeless health services under one roof, connected, open, generous and growing together”
After 2 years off, Brighton & Hove’s Homeless Health conference came back with a bang, offering a variety of training, networking and connection opportunities for frontline workers in the sector. The emphasis was very much on providing new perspectives, seeing things from the patient’s point of view, and empowering people who work directly with those facing homelessness.
Our expert speakers covered the following topics:
In all the talks, the emphasis was on practical tips and insights to enable us to look at things from the point of view of someone facing homelessness. There was also an overall atmosphere of positivity and seeing all situations as opportunities for connection, planning and empowerment, however challenging they might initially seem.
In his workshop on stabilisation and grounding techniques, Dr Gabriel Schnitzer walked delegates through a series of simple meditations and grounding exercises, to support people who might be in distress or another strong emotional state. Delegates took part, walking away feeling very calm themselves, and with a toolbox of practical techniques to support clients in the future.
In their talk on deteriorating health and palliative care, Caterina Speight and Helen Lyons encouraged us to think about “total pain” (how many different factors in a person’s life might worsen the experience of their deteriorating physical condition), and how advance, collaborative planning might lighten that load, whilst not removing all hope for the future.
Dr Tim Worthley’s talk provided insight into the many potential reasons for someone to be experiencing paranoia, voices and visions – this could be due to lack of sleep, a history of trauma and neglect, malnutrition, dehydration and a host of other reasons alongside mental health causes such as schizophrenia. He urged a careful look at the whole person, their circumstances and history, in order to provide effective support.
In Conversations that Save Lives, Agnes Munday provided a poignant and engaging illustration of how to stay focused on the human connection, when supporting someone having suicidal thoughts. There were many powerful discussions, and so much connection in the room itself.
Nimra Bandukwala encouraged delegates to put themselves in the shoes of people with autism and sensory processing disorder, explaining how they might experience external stimuli, and working through some helpful principles to keep in mind when supporting these clients in important moments, such as a move in accommodation.
Hannah Bishop talked through her original research with women seeking healthcare whilst homeless, and the potentially large, long-lasting impact of an early positive experience with a clinician. This could lead to stability in health and wellbeing, with knock on effects to other areas of life.
The Brighton & Hove Common Ambition team ran an excellent workshop on setting up a co-production group of people with lived experience of homelessness, in order to drive improvements to the homeless healthcare system. With the support of members of the project’s steering group, the team got delegates working through the process of setting up a group, and all the thought and care that goes into it, to ensure that the co-production process is as productive, robust and sustainable as possible.
The overall atmosphere of the day was convivial, hardworking and enthusiastic. Through the tough and impactful topics, and insights gained, there was a spirit of togetherness and gratitude to be seeing each other face to face again, many delegates meeting in person for the first time after two years of zoom calls. The dynamism in the room foretold of many fruitful collaborations, working to improve homeless health in the city, and never resting on our laurels. There is still so much to be done – we cannot accept that people who have gone through the trauma of becoming homeless, and are experiencing some of the hardest times, should have anything less than the best possible healthcare and surrounding support. The presence of the Common Ambition project, and members of the steering group this year, reinforces how lucky we are to work with such an inspiring group of people who face huge daily challenges. We hope to always improve, to do our best by them, they deserve nothing less.
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