Creating and Distributing Outdoor Wound Care Kits for the Unhoused Community
In Summer and Fall 2023, the ONE Good Deed Fund had the privilege to help create wound care kits for people living outdoors. These kits were developed through a collaboration with a local homeless healthcare program physician, a homeless healthcare program outreach worker, and the ONE Good Deed Fund. The collaboration began with a conversation about the terrible conditions unhoused people were living in outdoors during a summer of near constant rain and flooding, along with xylazine tainting the local opioid drug supply, leaving people’s lives in danger from untreated wounds. While larger systems change is needed on many levels, we knew if we could get basic wound care supplies in the hands of people who needed them, fewer people would end up in the hospital emergency department and in healthcare programs with serious, life-threatening wounds. Though some pre-packaged wound kits exist, we knew we could create higher quality, lower-cost kits if we purchased materials and packaged them ourselves.
The physician put together a list of all the wound care materials needed, and the outreach worker and the ONE Good Deed Fund worked through all the barriers unhoused people were living with. After deciding on creating a portable kit in a waterproof, reusable container, the ONE Good Deed Fund ordered and paid for the materials the group had selected. Once they arrived, the ONE Good Deed Fund and the outreach worker created a wound kit assembly line and put together 60 kits to start with, with materials for 40 more remaining. The outreach worker began handing out the kits that same day.
Two months later, the group reconvened to see if there were changes that needed to be made to create future kits, which are shared here. These kits are designed to be useful no matter the climate and can be replicated inexpensively. The cost per kit ended up at $8.25 in August, 2023.
For those who would like to build their own kits, we hope this information helps!
Materials to make 100 outdoor wound care kits:
- 1200 assorted generic brand band-aids (sizes ranged from 1” x 3” strips to 2” x 4 1/2” patches)
- 200 Sterile pre-packaged gauze pads (100 of 2” x 2” pads and 100 of 4”x 4” pads)
- 200 Sterile pre-packaged non-stick pads (either 2”x 3” or 3” x 4”)
- 200 Sterile pre-packaged gauze rolls
- 100 rolls of elastic compression bandage wrap (4” wide)
- 100 rolls of self-adhesive bandage wrap (2” wide)
- 100 rolls of silk surgical tape (1/2” x 10 yards)
- 1000 vinyl gloves
- 500 individual dose packages of bacitracin antibiotic zinc ointment
- 100 sturdy reusable 28 ounce to-go containers
Each kit contained approximately ten band-aids, one 2″x 2″ gauze pad, one 4″x 4″ gauze pad, two non-stick pads, two gauze rolls, one elastic bandage wrap, one self-adhesive bandage wrap, one roll of silk surgical tape, ten vinyl gloves, and 5 individual packets of bacitracin packed into the reusable to-go container.
Other helpful materials to add:
- Wound care first aid instructions
- Fentanyl and xylazine test strips with instructions for use
- Plastic wrap to keep wounds and dressings dry
- Naloxone spray
- Water-resistant laundry backpacks to help keep clothes and belongings dry
Additional notes: We strongly encourage people who want to get involved in supporting their own community to partner with people who are doing the on-the-ground work and people with lived experience. If we had designed kits on our own without the input of people who are actually living with and treating wounds outdoors, we would have made a lot of mistakes. Unless we are collaborating on issues we personally have experience with, we always believe and follow the lead of the people directly involved with an issue.