ROUGH sleepers in Manchester are being given a helping hand to take better care of their feet thanks to podiatry students from Salford University.
The undergraduates from the university’s BSc Podiatry course have teamed up with the Urban Village Medical Practice in Ancoats to offer a free weekly clinic to homeless people.
So far, they’ve treated over 100 people registered as homeless, and we’re not just talking about a simple case of sore feet and blisters.
“People can present with frostbite, trenchfoot, missing toes and weeping sores, all things directly related to their current living conditions,” said Michelle Cullen, a lecturer in podiatry at the University of Salford.
“One of our first patients was a gentleman with terrible weeping eczema. He had been given topical creams, but as he kept getting moved on in public toilets, he never had chance to apply them properly and manage his condition. As a result, he suffered from dreadful leg and foot ulcers.
“We were also able to give another young man with trenchfoot new socks and trainers and a few weeks later, his feet were perfect.”
The university operates several public healthcare clinics, including physiotherapy, podiatry and sports rehabilitation, but says this is the first time it has partnered with a GP surgery.
Urban Village Medical Practice has been delivering healthcare to homeless people for over 20 years. Working with other healthcare providers, it has developed a ‘one-stop shop’ approach to homeless people offering access to a GP, dentist, nurse, tissue viability service, drug assessment and treatment, and mental health services.
But the practice had lacked the podiatry service, which is so crucial to caring for the homeless.
“We were so pleased to have developed this partnership with the University of Salford, as it benefits those who use the service and staff and students alike,” said Roz Hughes, a specialist nurse with the practice’s homeless healthcare team.
“Homeless people commonly have foot problems which quickly worsen when rough sleeping so to have an easily accessible podiatry service is essential. We look forward to continuing to work together and developing the service.”
Students volunteer in their holidays, as well as organising raffles for socks and micro-towels to take with them. They also help deliver health education sessions at homeless charities.