Rough sleepers who were housed in hotels during the coronavirus outbreak are getting support for drug and alcohol addiction issues through a pioneering London-wide project.
Homeless Hotels Drug and Alcohol Support Service (HDAS-London) is run by homelessness charities and NHS trusts across London, and funded by the Mayor of London with support from Public Health England (PHE).
A spokesman for HDAS-London said, since the start of lockdown, more than 3,500 people have been brought in from the streets and housed in hotels and other forms of emergency accommodation across the capital. While more than 100 homeless people have been referred for drug or alcohol treatment.
The service also provides a 24-hour Single Point of Contact (SPOC), staffed by substance misuse workers and clinicians, which has enabled healthcare and support workers based at the hotels to identify those in need. Including vulnerable people who may not previously have sought support for drug and alcohol issues.
Louise (not her real name) was placed in a hotel and referred to the local drug treatment services in Westminster after becoming homeless when her partner died.
She was then transferred to another hotel across London and HDAS were able to ensure her care continued without interruption. Louise is now being supported to move out of the capital by the homeless health service team.
She said: ‘I knew I could talk honestly about my problem and didn’t feel judged. Text and phone reminders kept me updated about queries I’d discussed.
‘I’m now happy to have the opportunity to move back to my hometown and return to my family.’
Dr Emmert Roberts, addiction psychiatrist and lead clinician for HDAS-London, said the programme, which has been extended until September, is a vital part of the integrated healthcare response aiming to keep the rough sleeping community in London safe during the coronavirus outbreak and beyond.
‘Factors such as substance misuse can lead to specific health challenges, and increase an individual’s risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19.
‘That’s why this programme is vital in identifying anyone at risk and getting them support.
‘The system for commissioning substance misuse treatment in London is complex. The success of HDAS-London lies in its staff helping to navigate this on behalf of professionals working within the hotels. Then no one in need of help is overlooked.’
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