In 2010, Homeless Link first published national data looking at the health of homeless people in England. Our latest research looks at how health and the support available have changed since then.
From hospital to home
When someone who is homeless is admitted to hospital, research shows that their stay can often last longer, be more complex and cost the NHS more than other patients.
When they leave hospital, if they don't get the right support, many risk being discharged straight back onto the streets, further damaging their health and all but guaranteeing their readmission.
Housing is key to a ‘safe discharge’ from hospital, as well as to reducing the ongoing burden on the NHS. If you work for the NHS, there are steps you can take to help.
On admission, identify homeless patients and those living in homelessness services
- Ask if people have accommodation, whether they can return and if they risk losing it.
- Contact the patient’s support services – this can prevent them losing their accommodation.
If a housing need is identified, know how to respond and who to refer them to
- Find out who to notify within the hospital and externally – is there a named contact?
- Know how to make a referral to the local Housing Options team.
- Ask for training on the assessment and referral of homeless people.
- Keep an up-to-date contact list of local agencies such as hostels, outreach and drug and alcohol services on each ward. You can use www.homelessuk.org to find these out.
If homeless people discharge themselves
- Alert local services.
- Record the self-discharge and the reason.
Ensure patients can access ongoing care
- Complete a social needs assessment.
- Notify the GP and relevant agencies about follow up treatment.
- Provide a copy of the discharge plan and medication.
Help people return to their accommodation
- Let the housing agency know when the patient is returning to ensure they can get in.
- Avoid out of hours discharge.
- Help the patient get home – they may need travel expenses.
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Head of policy and communications
Helen job shares her role with Caroline Bernard, jointly overseeing Homeless Link’s policy, research, information and communications team.
22 Oct 2019 - 3:10pm
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