Research published in July 2014 by Homeless Link shows that the proportion of homeless people in England reporting some form of physical and mental health problem is at least double that of the general population, and many are not getting the right help. The unhealthy state of homelessness report (pdf) explores the health and wellbeing of homeless people in England and the support that is available to them. Umbrella body, Homeless Link, is calling for a full health assessment for anyone identified as homeless and appropriate treatment for their physical and mental health needs.
A Health Needs Audit is good practice way of gathering information about the health of people who are homeless in your local area. It can be used by local authorities, voluntary sector agencies and health services in partnership. Homeless Link have developed a health needs audit toolkit in partnership with a series of pilot sites across England, funded by the Department of Health. Nine national sites piloted the audit tool in 2010 with over 700 homeless people and 100 agencies. Learning from the pilots informed the development of this toolkit.
People who experience homelessness have some of the highest and costliest health needs in a local community, but those needs are often overlooked when health services are planned and commissioned. Addressing health inequalities is a key priority for the NHS, but to do this, we need a good evidence base about homeless people’s health and the services they use. The audit provides a framework for gathering and using this information to improve health services, using the direct experiences of homeless people.
About Homeless Link
Homeless Link is the national membership charity for organisations working directly with homeless people in England. They work to make services for homeless people better and campaign for policy change that will help end homelessness.