World TB Day
The London Borough of Newham, where we are based, has the highest TB rate in England with an average of 230 cases per year.
This Saturday 24th March marks World TB Day, an important commemoration which builds public awareness of the widespread problem and risk of tuberculosis (TB).
TB can cause devastating health, social and economic consequences and claims over 4,500 lives a day across the globe. It is a bacterial infection spread by breathing in particles from the coughs, sneezes or breath of people with active TB. People can also have latent TB, and whilst they do not actively spread the disease or suffer symptoms, about 10% develop into active TB which, if left untreated, can make the person extremely unwell and contagious.
At Your Place, we are proactive in our efforts to prevent TB and encourage our residents to put their health and wellbeing first. Over the last two years, we have hosted visits from an NHS Mobile Health Unit which carries out TB screenings, and administers Hepatitis B and flu jabs to both residents and staff who seek them.
This NHS scheme aims to provide a range of health screening to vulnerable populations, such as London’s large homeless population, so we are delighted to welcome this Mobile Health Unit every six months. The Unit offers instant chest X-rays which can identify the early signs of TB as well as a variety of other health ailments. If specialists spot any warning signs or concerns, they are able to support service users with onward referrals to the local chest clinics.
We are delighted in our resident’s participation, which has improved year on year, and credit this to the increased awareness in the benefits of vaccinations and screening, and to the kindness and compassion of the NHS staff involved. Our residents are able to learn the importance of improving their health and wellbeing, which is a key element of the holistic support we provide. Furthermore, empowering our residents and encouraging engagement with healthcare services helps ensure that when moving to independent living in the community, each individual will be comfortable in seeking help and advice from local services, and so can maintain their wellbeing.
James Grech, Deputy Team Leader of our Personal Development Team, said, “People experiencing homelessness have are particularly at risk of contracting TB, and so we’re pleased with the engagement of our residents with the NHS Mobile Health Unit visits. Your Place actively promote healthy lifestyles, and the number of residents that came along shows real progress and a growing positive mind-set towards health services.”