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Added 01 March 2024

Why it's important to have conversations about health

People experiencing homelessness face significant healthcare challenges and significant barriers to accessing healthcare services.

We have created a range of resources to ensure workers in the homelessness sector have existing skills and opportunities to talk to people around their healthcare needs.

How to support staff to have conversations about health

  1. Ensure staff feel supported - emotional and professional support to help staff feel confident in their roles
  2. Prioritise staff wellbeing - foster wellbeing in the workplace
  3. Colleague connections - create space for regular opportunities for staff to connect and interact through team meetings and by creating shared spaces
  4. Reflective practice - give staff space to reflect
  5. Formal support structures - create time for regular support and supervision
  6. Training and information - signpost staff to relevant training opportunities and source of guidance and information
  7. Celebration and recognition - celebrate successes

Explore in more detail in this easy-format one-page document.

How to run training/workshop to explore this further

One way to support staff is to organise a workshop where various scenarios relating to holding conversations about health can be explored and discussed as a group, exploring questions such as:

  • What does a conversation about health look like? What questions would you be asking?
  • What makes a positive health interaction?

Below is a step-by-step agenda for an example workshop, with a set of slides to be used.

Having conversations about health can be difficult for frontline workers. Our resources are designed to help staff overcome these barriers.

Other useful resources

There are a range of useful resources to support workers holding conversations about health, including resources covering:

  • Working with specific groups
  • Mental health
  • Specific health conditions

There is also guidance related to using every contact with a person as an opportunity to encourage behaviour change and discuss health through the use of Advocacy skills, and a template document for mapping out health services and their contact details.

You may also want to hear more about this approach in a webinar, which can be found here with supporting slides here.


People experiencing homelessness face some of the worst health outcomes and often rely heavily on emergency care.

The Bridging the Health Gap report highlighted the key role that homelessness services play in encouraging people to engage with health care. However, many staff and volunteers lack the confidence and capacity to initiate conversations about health.

As part of the Bridging the Health Gap project, we have produced a suite of resources aimed at supporting staff and volunteers to have conversations about health. This work was produced in partnership with Pathway and Groundswell, and has been funded through the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance, jointly managed and funded by Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and UK Health Security Agency. For more information, please visit: https://www.england.nhs.uk/hwalliance

Assessing the health needs of people experiencing homelessness

For over a decade, organisations around the country have used the Homeless Health Needs Audit (HHNA) to help understand health inequalities faced by people experiencing homelessness in their area.

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