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Sunny Street paves brighter road to better health

Sunny Street paves brighter road to better health

Sunny Street paves brighter road to better health

2 February 2021

Captain Adele Williams (Maryborough Corps Officer), nurse Sonia Goodwin and Dr Nova Evans (Sunny Street co-founders) and Deanne Stewart (corps administrative assistant) jumping for joy at the health outreach service beginning on the Fraser Coast.

By Darryl Whitecross

Life for Maryborough’s homeless and vulnerable is looking a little sunnier after The Salvation Army created a new ministry pathway in collaboration with health care organisation Sunny Street.

Captain Adele Williams, Corps Officer in the Central Queensland city, said The Salvation Army was excited to provide facilities for Sunny Street staff to run outreach clinics, which would complement its weekly Wednesday night community dinner that has run for about 10 years.

Sunny Street is a Sunshine Coast-based, doctor-and-nurse-led service, which started about three years ago.

Maryborough Corps administration assistant Deanne Stewart said the introduction of the Sunny Street service to the corps program had been 12 months in the making.

Deanne said that when she heard Sunny Street was looking at beginning a service in the Hervey Bay/Maryborough area, she believed it would be a great service to the people already coming to te corps for assistance.

She said that, along with the table from where the Sunny Street volunteers worked, the corps also set aside room where “something a little more personal or a bit more of a private conversation” could be held.

One of the Sunny Street co-founders, nurse Sonia Goodwin, said the principles of her service aligned with those of the Army in its approach to meeting community needs.

Sonia, who has been a nurse for 30 years, said it was important for Sunny Street to “heavily collaborate” with groups such as the Army where people were already comfortable going for food, laundry or other services – “where people already had trusted relationships”.

Sunny Street nurse Jodie chats with Brian about his health care needs at Maryborough Corps in Queensland.

“They need a psychologically safe place to have their issues attended to,” Sonia said. “We found that people actually want to talk about health care. It’s a high priority. We weren’t sure if it would be a high priority along with getting food and shelter, but it seriously is.

“People’s mental health; people’s infections and things like that ... it’s an incredible priority.

“People really wanted to talk about their concerns. We found that we had to flip from a medical model to a conversation-based model of healthcare where people were able to sit with people and take the time and meet people where they're at in their healthcare journey. We spend time and we listen and our culture is very, very much around kindness and love and not judgment.”

The Maryborough clinic was Sunny Street’s farthest north for the service. The clinics are run in the evening, which works well with the corps’ Wednesday night community dinner that is served as a takeaway meal while COVID-19 protocols are in place. Usually, it is a sit-down service.

The doctors, nurses and Army volunteers are often decked out in mostly yellow T-shirts (but there are other colours, too) that complement the mantra of the Sunny Street service – bright, cheery and willing to help.

Sonia said Sunny Street received funding from several health and government sources to help it work with the homeless and vulnerable in the community who did not fit well into the mainstream medical model of hospitals and clinics.

She said such people, more often than not, needed more attention than the standard 10-minute consultation with a doctor. Many are needing a listening ear or help with wound care, infection or mental health issues, extending to issues such as poverty and anxiety.

Sunny Street staff also are available to help clients with any medical paperwork they need to fill out, prepare for appointments with questions they need to ask and conditions they need to explain and to make appointments with other health care professionals.

 

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