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Podiatry students help ease pain of homeless

Wednesday 3 April 2019

PODIATRY students are helping to ease the pain for homeless people walking the streets of Manchester.

Undergraduates from the University of Salford’s BSc Podiatry course have teamed up with the Urban Village Medical Practice in Ancoats, Manchester to offer free weekly clinic to people with no fixed abode.

And they’ve already treated more than 100 clients registered as homeless.

“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.

'Perfect' within weeks

“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 of Salford operates several public healthcare clinics, including physiotherapy, podiatry and sports rehabilitation but it’s the first time they’ve partnered a GP surgery.

Urban Village Medical Practice have been delivering healthcare to homeless people for over 20 years and working with other healthcare providers have 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.

Foot health essential

But the practice had lacked the podiatry resource which is so crucial to caring for the homeless. 

Roz Hughes Specialist Nurse Homeless Healthcare Team from the Practice can’t fault the project, saying: “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. 

“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 have taken the project to their heart and 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.

- Podiatry courses at the University of Salford have strong links to the NHS enabling students to experience real working conditions on placements.

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Gareth Hollyman, Senior Press & PR Officer (Science)

0161 295 6895