The Health and Homelessness Project (HHP) works with supported housing projects across Hammersmith and Fulham to improve health access and decrease health inequalities for those who are vulnerably/temporarily housed. The concept has also been developed in Westminster with the new Homeless Health Coordination Project (HHCP).
Homeless and vulnerably/temporarily housed people experience some of the worst health outcomes in society. Often, service users experience multiple and complex health needs (physical, mental and substance misuse).
The ever-changing landscape of the health care system, housing service providers, and staffing teams means it is important to maintain a high standard of joint working to ensure service users receive the best health outcomes while they are staying in supported housing.
The HHP works with housing providers to improve the health of people in their accommodation.
Through health action group meetings, events, training, e-mail promotion and quarterly statistics the HHP works to ensure that:
Housing staff are:
- knowledgeable about health and wellbeing services available in their area and can refer and signpost service users
- monitoring health needs and supporting service users to address them
- raising awareness about important health issues
- sharing examples of best practice
Service users are:
- provided with thorough health assessment
- empowered to acknowledge health needs, access local services and make decisions regarding their health
- encouraged to attend HHP events and make positive changes to their health and wellbeing
- experiencing improved health outcomes
The Hammersmith and Fulham project achieved positive outcomes during 2014/15:
- the project reached 250-300 service users per quarter
- 24 clients attended dental screenings
- 14 supported accommodation projects took part in alcohol awareness week, running events to raise awareness about the harmful effects of alcohol
- 70 staff and service users from supported accommodation projects attended the annual service user conference
- 182 staff, volunteers, service users and health and wellbeing professional attended the H&F health and wellbeing fair
- positive increase of service users registered with a GP
- new partnerships and development of the GP Link Project
- safe sex promotion: condom budget allocated to each organisation in Hammersmith and Fulham
Our Westminster project launched in 2015. Further information on outcomes will be available as the project develops.
The HHP works to coordinate the work of health and housing providers across the boroughs to improve access to health services and reduce health inequalities. In Hammersmith and Fulham, the HHP works in partnership with 16 different housing providers and numerous primary, secondary and community health and wellbeing services.
Close working with housing providers is crucial to the success of the project. Housing providers submit quarterly and annual data on a range of health indicators for their service users, allowing the HHP coordinator to monitor and identify areas where health and housing staff may benefit from additional training.
HHP sources relevant local health and wellbeing services to provide this free training and improve the capacity of housing workers to monitor and support the health of their service users. HHP also coordinates a programme of volunteers who run health action groups within accommodation projects, proactively engaging and educating service users.
Our contribution to improving health
Improving service users’ ability to manage their individual health needs contributes to a range of health outcomes according to the particular needs of individuals. For example, HHP contributes to the following outcomes:
- NHS outcome 4.4: improving access to primary care services
- NHS outcome 2.1: proportion of people feeling supported to manage their condition
- NHS outcome 3.7: improving dental health
- PHOF outcome 2.15: successful completion of drug treatment