Healthcare and housing provision for a UK homeless community: a qualitative service evaluation

L Bell, M Whelan, D Lycett, E Fernandez , Tanya Khera-Butler, I Kehal, R Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Homelessness is both a significant determinant and consequence of health and social inequalities. To better meet healthcare needs, dedicated mental health and general nurses were implemented to deliver outreach healthcare to people experiencing homelessness in one United Kingdom (UK) county. During COVID-19, the UK Government also instructed local authorities to accommodate individuals sleeping rough and have a national target to end rough sleeping. This qualitative study explored experiences of this nurse-let outreach service and housing journeys during and beyond COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness.

STUDY DESIGN: Face-to-face, narrative storytelling interviews were conducted via opportunistic sampling in community settings. Individuals with recent or current experiences of homelessness were eligible.

METHODS: Participants were informed about the study via known professionals and introduced to the researcher. Eighteen narrative interviews were conducted, transcribed, and analysed using reflective thematic analysis.

RESULTS: Individuals described complex journeys in becoming and being homeless. The nurse-led outreach service provided integral support, with reported benefits to person-centred and accessible care and improved outcomes in health and well-being. After being housed, individuals valued housing necessities and described new responsibilities. However, some participants did not accept or stay in housing provisions where they perceived risks.

CONCLUSIONS: Interviewed participants perceived that the dedicated nurse-led outreach service improved their access to care and health outcomes. In the absence of dedicated provisions, mainstream healthcare should ensure flexible processes and collaborative professional working. Local authorities must also be afforded increased resources for housing, as well as integrated support, to reduce social and health inequalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalPublic Health
Volume229
Early online date17 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2024 The Royal Society for Public Health. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Funder

Funding was provided by Warwickshire County Council.
Ethics approval was granted by Coventry University Ethics Committee (P130453).

Keywords

  • Homeless
  • Housing
  • Health Inequalities
  • Healthcare Access
  • COVID-19
  • Narrative Interviews

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