News

Homeless health key issue for nurses, highlights QNI event

Nurses play an important role in minimising the impact of homelessness on families' health, a conference has heard.
Wendy_Nicholson-tile-BN.jpg

Nurses play an important role in minimising the impact of homelessness on families' health, a conference has heard

Public Health England national lead nurse for children, young people and families Wendy Nicholson joined other speakers to discuss key challenges for homeless health at the event in Birmingham last Friday.

The special event, organised by the Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI), was attended by nurses, health visitors, midwives, social workers and outreach workers and is part of a programme aimed at improving community nursing care for people experiencing homelessness .

Ms Nicholson said healthcare professionals could positively influence the health impact of homelessness among families and pointed delegates towards

Nurses play an important role in minimising the impact of homelessness on families' health, a conference has heard


Public Health England national lead nurse for children, young people and families
Wendy Nicholson spoke at the event. Picture: Barney Newman

Public Health England national lead nurse for children, young people and families Wendy Nicholson joined other speakers to discuss key challenges for homeless health at the event in Birmingham last Friday.

The special event, organised by the Queen's Nursing Institute (QNI), was attended by nurses, health visitors, midwives, social workers and outreach workers and is part of a programme aimed at improving community nursing care for people experiencing homelessness.

Ms Nicholson said healthcare professionals could positively influence the health impact of homelessness among families and pointed delegates towards recent government guidance.

Rise in homeless families 

Action points from this guidance include:

  • Enquiring about the household's housing circumstances routinely and recording this.
  • Providing holistic screening and health assessment (using tools such as the QNI health assessment guidance).
  • Supporting individuals to attend appointments and engage in treatment.
  • Ensuring individuals with deteriorating health and increasing needs are identified and receive adequate (social care) support.
  • Checking homeless patients are registered with a GP and receive primary health care, vaccinations and screening programmes.

Ms Nicholson also outlined key statistics on the scale of the problem of homelessness.

The number of homeless families with dependent children has risen, an increase of 73% for couples and 50% for single parents, amounting to 41,980 households, according to the Department for Health.

Temporary accommodation 

Ms Nicholson said there has been a corresponding increase in the use of temporary accommodation, including bed and breakfast, and in sleeping rough.

'We have got many families in temporary accommodation and the risks for children include poor nutrition, accidents and chest infections,' she said.

'The number of families sleeping rough has increased, which is worrying,' she added.

During 2015-16, about 8,096 people were seen sleeping rough in London alone by outreach workers.

Funding available 

Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust specialist health visitor for homeless families Maxine Jenkins said addressing health issues in homeless families often involved allowing them to talk through their biggest issues first.

'That is not going to be health,' she said. 'It's more about finding out what has already been done, signposting, suggesting, supporting and, having done that, I can help them explore their own health issues.'

QNI director of programmes Anne Pearson invited nurses to apply for funding to develop 12-month projects that would improve homeless health and have measurable outcomes.

Funding of £5,000 will soon be available for up to 10 projects and is part of the QNI Fund for Innovation and Leadership Programme.


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to mentalhealthpractice.com
  • Bi-monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs