New scheme supports homeless hospital patients

Breaking the cycle of homelessness and poor health

When someone who is homeless is discharged from hospital they often return to the streets and the cycle of poor health continues.

We’re part of a pilot scheme at QEQM hospital in Margate that aims to prevent this by combining the expertise of Porchlight, homeless healthcare charity Pathway and the NHS.

It’s about ensuring that homeless patients who are receiving emergency healthcare have access to support for housing, mental health, drug and alcohol misuse, and debt once they leave hospital.

Typically, someone in this position will return to the streets after being discharged and the cycle of poor health continues. They are more likely to experience serious or even life-threatening conditions, such as respiratory illnesses. By putting the right support in place, we can keep them safe and work towards breaking the cycle of homelessness and poor health.

This scheme is being piloted at QEQM until the autumn. If successful, we hope to make it a permanent service there and roll it out to other Kent hospitals.

Among those it has already helped are a homeless man receiving surgery for a fractured arm. He’d been sleeping in a tent for seven years but thanks to the scheme he was given somewhere to live by the time he was discharged. We were able to give him new clothes and a mobile phone to stay in contact with support services. One of our partner organisations will continue supporting him as he settles into his home and begins rebuilding his life.

It also helped a homeless woman admitted to hospital for alcohol-related issues. She had previously struggled to access homelessness accommodation but we found her somewhere to stay by the time her treatment had ended. She’ll also receive emotional and practical support to overcome past trauma, stay healthy and rebuild her life.