This section looks at the information that is needed to address older homelessness locally and introduces you to the tools available to do that.
A starting point for this work is to find out about the older homeless population in your local authority area. You will need to define the age threshold. People who have lived a homeless lifestyle age prematurely and often have chronic health problems and care needs by the age of 50 years. 50 years plus is suggested but some authorities choose a younger or older age group.
The Older Homeless Project recommends that the information you will need to tackle the needs of this population locally includes:
Homeless Link have developed a toolkit, the older people’s needs audit. The audit is a simple tool that will provide you with the mechanism to gather and collate the information outlined above and is available free from our website. Oxford, Brighton, Cambridge and Westminster and Blackburn and Darwen helped to develop the toolkit. It has helped them to plan to move-on the existing older client group and to look at the gaps in their provision. To get an idea of the type of information gathered look at the summary of results.
Blackburn and Darwen describe below how Information from the audit has has informed their strategic planning:
Cambridge City Council - as a result of undertaking the older people’s needs audit Cambridge City Council have made a commitment within their Homelessness Strategy 2009-12 to address the issue of older people with complex needs.
Key priorities include:
The audit will give the authority an idea of the proportion of their older residents in hostels for whom the various housing and support options would work. The housing and support options as described in the audit are:
Dependent on the findings of the audit your authority may wish to explore some areas in more detail.
Westminster Audit - in Westminster the audit showed there were 30 residents who had been in the same hostel for more than 2 years, one-third of them are over 65 years of age and nearly half had been in the hostel for over 10 years.
Two of the issues that come out as dominant in this cohort are institutionalisation and difficulty in engaging in support planning. It was decided there to take a case management approach around the move-on of these particular individuals. Another suggestion was encouraging each hostel with older long stay residents to appoint a lead worker on older homelessness to help older people move on into appropriate housing and support. It was suggested this process would be reviewed through contract monitoring.
The audits that have been carried out so far have shown a predominantly white UK older population resident in the hotels. Older people who are homeless in the BME community are more likely to be hidden because:
Effort needs to go into finding out where BME elders are and what the specific issues are for different BME communities, what provision there is locally in the voluntary sector in relation to BME elders. Those agencies may have insight into the issues and be able to reach this group. An Equality Impact Assessment should be carried out in relation to any proposed initiatives or changes to policy/procedure.