Homeless people experience some of the poorest health in our communities. Without good health, it can be hard to leave homelessness behind. Improving the health of people who are homeless is central to reducing health inequalities and achieving the goal of ending homelessness.

  • Our National Health Audit found that eight in ten have one or more physical health need, and seven in ten have at least one mental health problem.
  • Research by Crisis in 2011 estimated the average age of death of a homeless person to be 43-47 years of age

Because of their higher levels of need, homeless people use acute health services disproportionately to the general population. Healthcare for Single Homeless people, by the DH, estimated that this group uses hospital services at a rate 4 to 8 times greater than the general population.  

SOLUTIONS

Many organisations support homeless people to access health services and manage their health problems. However, further action is required to improve suitability, access and take up of health services. This includes:

  • Taking  firm action as the NHS is reorganised to ensure there is greater accountability for tackling health inequalities. Our work on the Health Bill will tell you more about the arguments we made during the NHS reforms.
  • Local commissionerstaking account of the needs of homeless people. Our  Health Needs Audit is a practical tool to gather this information. Our page on Joint Strategic Needs Assessements (JSNAs) gives guidance on how this information can be used.
  • Better integration between the health and homelessness sector, particularly around Hospital admission and discharge.

OUR vision for a better nhs

To find out more about what we think needs to happen, download Helping homeless people regain their health: our vision for a better NHS.

what action can i take?

Whether you are a commissioner, homelessness agency or other service working in the health or homelessness field, there are steps to take. Visit our new Health Influencing Page which outlines how you can inform better services in your local area.