Fred walked into the RDNS Silverchain homeless clinic located at Adelaide's Hutt St Centre with a throbbing hand, in pain and his body shaking from the cold outside. He had spent the night sleeping rough and had been assaulted with a tent peg, resulting in a hand injury.
Jacqui Bonfield is the RDNS Clinical Nurse supporting the Hutt St Centre. She could see the pain in Fred's eyes and knew something wasn't right. Without hesitation, Ms Bonfield provided the care, support and small comforts Fred needed.
“His hand was swollen and infected, putting him at risk of osteomyelitis and nerve damage,” Ms Bonfield said.
Worried about Fred's situation, Ms Bonfield asked to arrange a rapid review for him at the Adelaide Hospital, but he was reluctant at first to leave Hutt St Centre.
“He was not keen to be away from the clinic where he was able to access a hot meal, drink and be close with others he was sleeping rough within the community,” Ms Bonfield said.
Jacqui assured Fred he would be okay and arranged for him to be referred to a Hospital Avoidance Service, a care pathway that supports people who require a higher level of care as an alternative to presenting to a hospital emergency department.
Understanding the urgency of Fred’s case, the HAS team agreed to see him immediately. Ms Bonfield was able to reassure Fred he would be welcome back at Hutt St after his appointment.
Census data from 2021 reveals the number of people experiencing homelessness in South Australia increased by 19 per cent since 2016.
Ms Bonfield says people experiencing homelessness have complex needs that require Best Care – care that is safe, personal, connected and effective.
“People experiencing homelessness are among Australia’s most vulnerable. They are surviving from one day to the next and many are living with untreated physical health issues, permanent disabilities and mental illness,” Ms Bonfield said.
“Sadly, they fall through the cracks for many reasons, and people like Fred who have complex needs face additional challenges to access health care they sometimes urgently need.
“The stigma associated with homelessness can also make them unwilling to seek urgent medical care. At Hutt St Centre, people can access primary health care as well as a safe place to sleep.”
In the weeks that followed, Fred's hand gradually healed, and he began attending the Hutt St clinic regularly for check-ups. He also became involved in several support programs that helped him find stable housing and employment.
RDNS Silverchain is proud to support the health and wellbeing of our clients at Hutt St Clinic.
To find out more about our homeless nursing clinics, click here to find out more.