Hastings healthcare project benefiting homeless

An innovative digital health care outreach project in Hastings is helping homeless and insecurely housed people gain access to medical treatment and support.

The project has helped 122 homeless people in Hastings by using technology to improve how outreach workers respond to the healthcare needs of their clients, communicating with St John’s ambulance to get clinical opinions on injuries and symptoms. The project has been using digital technology to record and triage health concerns of rough sleepers.

The project, which is a partnership between NHS Digital, NHS England, Good Things Foundation and The Seaview Project, has helped service users improve at following medication for long-term conditions and managing their side effects.

Homeless people have a considerably lower life expectancy and a 10 times greater standardised mortality rate than the general population, while also reporting low levels of digital confidence compared to the general population. By improving their health literacy and empowering them to take control of their own healthcare, the users became more open and willing to trust and re-engage with their GP services.

Annie Whelan, chief officer at Seaview, said "Being chosen as a site for a digital health pathfinder focusing on homelessness was a wonderful opportunity for Seaview. The digitisation of health and care is inevitable, and it could either result in further exclusion for our client group or greater sensitivity and understanding.

“Having the resource and backing to trial real support ideas in practice has helped us to work on achieving greater accessibility and to break down barriers. Working with Good Things Foundation as a partner has also been wonderfully empowering as they have very much been concerned about improving the experience and digital health journeys of those that are homeless or rough sleeping."

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