The Northern Health and Social Care Trust is celebrating after one of its nurses was runner up in the Public Health Award category at the Nurse of the Year 2014 awards ceremony which was held last week.
Florence Hand from Randalstown, is a Community Resuscitation Co-ordinator and Project Manager in the Health Improvement Service in the Trust.
She is based in Ballymena but works across the Northern Trust area.
Florence won the award for her innovative work in developing the Enhanced Healthcare for the Homeless (ECHO) project.
Through the project it was agreed that Hostel staff would support their residents to identify, address and manage any physical, mental or emotional health needs they may have.
In particular Florence worked on behalf of people affected by Homelessness to improve access for them to health and social care services.
Florence identified people who are homeless and experienced difficulties in accessing GPs and often presented at the Emergency Department.
Florence worked in partnership with GPs to ensure that residents in hostels could register with a GP practice and agreed rotas with GPS to ensure hostels would know which practice to approach for a new resident.
An evaluation of the project has revealed that 100% of residents were accepted onto the GP register on their first attempt and had their health needs met.
Hostel residents have reported that they feel more confident going with a referral form already filled in by support workers as they found it easier to talk to a new GP knowing they already had some information about them.
The partnership working facilitated by Florence has radically transformed access to services for this marginalised group of people.