Government funding has been awarded to offer health and social support to homeless or vulnerably housed residents who have been discharged from emergency care. A total of £640,000 has been awarded by the Department of Health and Social Care to help reduce inequalities in health and social care by providing a consistent offer of out-of-hospital care for homeless residents in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
Many homeless residents who are discharged from hospital continue to rough sleep or be at high risk of losing their temporary accommodation and are often admitted back to emergency care. The funding will contribute towards a multi-disciplinary approach offering care and support for homeless patients, many of whom are frequent attendees in the emergency departments and self-discharge before they can be linked in with primary health care and community services. It will also help those who are unable to engage with services due to barriers caused by mental health or substance misuse.
Health and Social care partners will work to ensure health care, accommodation and clinical needs are met for the patients, improving the transfer of care from hospital and therefore reducing the number of re-admissions to emergency care. The council is working with partners in the Health Action Group - which includes BCP Council Housing, Adult Social Care and Drug & Alcohol Commissioning services, Public Health, CCG, Dorset Healthcare and University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust. The Health Action Group is involved in the Homeless Care Pathway scheme, where health and social care teams work closely to identify homeless residents once they are admitted to emergency care and provide them with support and care both during their stay and when they are back out in the community.
The Homeless Care Pathway is currently running as a pilot scheme at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital. The new funding will mean that this service will be extended to both Bournemouth and Poole hospitals, offering longer hours to meet the needs of those in emergency situations. The provision will also be offered in community hospitals where required. This will ensure that all homeless people will be offered support in their day-to-day clinical and social care needs after discharge from emergency care across the BCP Council area, ensuring a smooth transition back to primary care, with help and support being available to help prevent homeless people returning to emergency care.
Councillor Hazel Allen, Lead member for Homelessness said:
“We are committed to working with our partners to ensure equitable access to health, social care and housing services for our homeless population. This will ensure there is a consistent approach to meet the needs of all homeless patients across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole by improving the clinical and social care needs of homeless patients once out in the community and therefore reducing incidents of emergency hospital admissions. We hope that our partnership working will help to break the cycle of people returning to the streets, supporting them into secure and long term accommodation.”
There will be longer term health support out in the community such as the central Homeless Inclusion Health Centre in Bournemouth. This ‘Health Hub’ will offer outreach services across the conurbation as well as further developing a multi-disciplinary team with the benefit of staff working closely together to provide a wide range of health support for individuals who are homeless in one central location.