Free health checks for homeless | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Free health checks for homeless

Homeless and marginalised people have been invited to receive free health checks at the Maroochy Neighbourhood Centre, with support from the University of the Sunshine Coast mobile health clinic.

USC Nursing Science staff and students will offer blood pressure monitoring, skin integrity checks, body mass index checks, mental health assessments and other basic health monitoring on Saturday 28 July, between 10am and 2pm.

Health outreach service Sunny Street will also be there, offering health screening, chronic disease support, wound care, diabetes checks and management, and a GP service.

Sunny Street provides mobile medical and nursing services to homeless and vulnerable individuals and families, breaking down the barriers to access mainstream health care.

Media are invited to the event on the understanding that participants will need to agree to appear on camera. 11.30am is a good time to arrive.

Maroochy Neighbourhood Centre community development coordinator Mark Ellis said for many who are likely to attend, the free health care would be something they did not otherwise access.

“Often people living on the streets can’t afford doctors or medications, or they may qualify for bulk billing but don’t have the transport to get them to the doctor’s clinic,” Mr Ellis said.

Homelessness has been linked to numerous conditions caused by exposure to the elements, lack of opportunities to practise good hygiene, inappropriate footwear, mental stress and poor diet.

He said the homeless community on the Sunshine Coast was growing due to job losses and lack of affordable housing or local emergency accommodation for men. He also said the walk between Centrelink and a bulk-billed doctor could often take three and a half hours on the Sunshine Coast, leaving many to avoid getting health checks.

USC Nursing Science students will conduct the checks, overseen by USC Nursing and Midwifery Clinical Experience Coordinator Bronwyn Doyle.

Ms Doyle said the event would be an opportunity for students to practise their skills in a public health setting.

“This is just one of the many ways we ensure they gain valuable experience working in the community while they are studying, at the same time giving them a chance to give back to the Sunshine Coast community,” she said.

Visitors will also be treated to a neck and shoulder massage and free haircuts from the Sunshine Coast Academy of Hairdressing. Any diagnoses will be followed up with a local GP through Medicare.

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