Aims/Objectives/Background Homelessness is on the rise in the UK. The problem identified specific to homeless patient care was clinician understanding of the homeless person’s social needs to form an adequate discharge plan as well as completing their legal duty to refer such patients to the local housing authority.
Methods/Design This quality improvement project (QIP) aimed to reduce the reattendance rate of homeless patients presenting to the Homerton University Hospital (HUH) Emergency Department (ED) by 20% from November 2019 to April 2020. This would be done by improving social history taking, signposting of patients to appropriate resources, and performing the legal duty to refer. Using the PDSA cycle method, interventions included a week of presentations to inform clinicians of the process measures; an advertising campaign; and a defined flowchart process for the duty to refer.
Results/Conclusions The QIP yielded the following results in terms of median baselines: social history taking 60% to 88%, signposting to resources 30% to 67%, and duty to refer 0 to 41%. There was no change to the outcome measure of reattendance rate, maintained at 40% throughout the project and hence the QIP did not meet its SMART aim.
However this may have been the result of the decision to cut short data collection time due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic which saw overall reduction in ED patient attendance. Most street homeless persons were put up in temporary hotels in the government funded scheme ‘Everybody In’, lockdown meant the hidden homeless should stay indoors, and a ban on court evictions has been extended until 23 August 2020.
Nonetheless, work to improve quality of care continued with a new pathway for safe discharge of homeless patients with suspected COVID-19. Planning ahead for post pandemic times has brought about a new standard operating procedure, which will ensure sustainability of the QIP.
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