Scheme to help Plymouth's homeless stay off the streets after being discharged from hospital gets funding boost
A HOSPTIAL initiative aims to help the homeless get support after they are discharged rather than just put them back onto the streets.
The initiative has been funded by £74,000 from the Department of Health to the specialist housing and social care support provider BCHA.
They will deliver the contract in partnership with Plymouth City Council and other voluntary organisations in the city. BCHA said it was ideally placed to lead and deliver this service, due to its vast experience in supporting homeless people. The Bournemouth Churches Housing Association (BCHA) was founded in 1968 by a number of churches. Since then it has grown and is now a major provider of a diverse range of housing, support and learning services for socially excluded people. Although based in Bournemouth, it delivers services from Plymouth to Oxford.
The funding will help create two new jobs within Plymouth. Staff will regularly visit Derriford Hospital, and other local hospitals, to identify patients on the wards and within the Accident and Emergency Department who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
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BCHA said staff will also carry out work within the community, continuing to support and engage with people once they have been discharged from hospital to help them to secure appropriate housing.
The service will ensure that a timely hospital discharge is co-ordinated and that measures are put in place to prevent a return to the streets. It will make sure that the necessary aftercare and support plans are in place to prevent further damage to health and consequently, readmission to hospital.
BCHA said the recurring re-admission of those who find themselves homeless, and the deterioration in their health and well-being, has always been a problem. It is estimated that people who are homeless can attend Accident and Emergency Departments up to six times more than people with a home, and that currently 70 per cent of people who are homeless are discharged back onto the street, without their housing or on-going care needs after hospital being properly addressed.
Martin Hancock, BCHA chief executive, said: "We will be using this funding to work with the local Hospital Trusts, local doctors and GPs and local authorities to provide a service to ensure that individuals who are homeless in our local communities receive appropriate housing and the best possible support and care after leaving hospital.
"It is vital that health and housing services are more joined up to help improve the health and well-being of the individual, and make best use of the funding available to give longer term savings to health services."
He said that though the funding was only until April 2014, BCHA was confident it would demonstrate the benefits of preventative measures to reduce the number of people re-admitted to hospitals in Plymouth, and the financial savings to health services in the longer term."
Councillor Chris Penberthy, Plymouth City Council's cabinet member for co-operatives and community development said: "I'm delighted we're able to support this new service. It's really important that people who are discharged from hospital have somewhere safe to go and do not end up back on the streets. This service is a good example of health, council teams and local voluntary sector agencies all working together to look after people and make sure support plans are put in place for them."