The need for StreetSmart Physio
There is a lot off evidence that homeless people experience significant physical ill health due to the nature of being homeless, including sleeping rough or living in temporary accommodation.
There is also evidence that the results of physical health problems such as chronic back pain can lead to the development of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Many homeless people have also developed significant alcohol and drug problems, which may have contributed to them becoming homeless. The physical health problems resulting from addictions are well known.
This led us to the conclusion that physiotherapy can offer something other health professionals working in this field cannot provide – a holistic hands-on treatment and advice service to help alleviate the physical and mental health problems associated with homelessness.
Although the medical services available to the homeless in Edinburgh are well established and effective they do not currently have a physiotherapist working within that team. In 2009 we started StreetSmart Physio with a team of six volunteer physiotherapists, with the aim of using their skills and knowledge to help the homeless people of Edinburgh.
How we started
The Salvation Army hostel in the Pleasance, Edinburgh kindly agreed to host out physiotherapy clinic. We were given the initial start up costs by Street Smart – a charity for homeless people – which allowed us to buy basic equipment. We also built up good communication links with the NHS Homeless practice, where we can refer people for medication or further investigations.
Our volunteer physiotherapists
We have a pool of 10 physios who work in our clinic. If you are a UK registered physiotherapist, have your HPC registration and would like to work with us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.