Hampshire Operational Model of Effective Recovery (HOMER) is the adult substance misuse service that runs across the county of Hampshire. HOMER offers a range of holistic recovery-based interventions, including opportunities to mentor and volunteer. Under this umbrella in 2012, the team set up P2P (peer to peer) hepatitis C mentoring, run in partnership with The Hepatitis C Trust.
This group launched a hepatitis C testing roadshow called Love Yourself – Get Tested. The team visited 10 sites over five days and service users identified at risk of hepatitis C were invited to attend and offered an oral swab test to check for hepatitis C antibodies. All service users diagnosed with antibodies had a care pathway put in place.
Hampshire’s population is both rural and urban, with several areas experiencing higher than average levels of deprivation. Residents of deprived areas are less likely to seek help and support, despite greater healthcare needs. There is a high prevalence of HCV in Havant and increased risk in the New Forest, with entrenched intravenous drug users sharing equipment.
Laboratory reports of HCV have increased markedly in recent years across the South East region, with NHS Southampton General Hospital sixth in the country for HCV hospital admissions in 2011/12.
While headway is being made, a significant number of clients have yet to be tested. Ongoing re-tests are also needed and testing needs to be extended to at-risk people sharing drug paraphernalia.
The project had three key objectives. Firstly, to cut costs through early identification and treatment of HCV, before it can cause potentially fatal liver damage. The Roadshow aimed to test 200 people deemed at risk, and the project was designed to help overcome poor patient attendance by supporting clients through treatment.
Secondly, to reduce onward transmission of HCV, by means of early detection, education and awareness.
Finally, to improve the quality of life for those with HCV, through one-to-one mentoring, peer support groups and information allowing them to manage their condition. This includes targeted intervention such as healthy living events for those opting not to have treatment.
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