Aims/Objectives/Background During the COVID-19 pandemic most of London’s homeless day centres and hostels had to close, essential support services and GP practices were only contactable by phone or online. This created a precarious situation for vulnerable street homeless, leaving them with limited access to food, safe places or health care. Homeless patients attending our ED within hours could access homeless team support. However, an audit in our ED in May 2020 revealed that 70–80% of our homeless patients attended out of hours. We identified this shortfall in care, so conducted a pilot project to supply mobile phones to 30 homeless patients to facilitate a follow-up with our homeless team. This is the first study of this kind in an emergency department in the UK.
Methods/Design Two grants from the GSTT charity and the Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries charity covered the purchase of 30 mobile phones. The phones were given together with contact numbers to 30 rough sleepers attending our department out of hours, who did not have access to a phone or an allocated support worker. In addition, we forwarded the patient‘s details and mobile number to our homeless team who contacted the patient the next working day after discharge.
Results/Conclusions All 30 phones were given out during a 3 month period. ED staff referred 21 of the 30 patients to the homeless team. The homeless team was able to contact 17 patients. 4 patients were eligible for council housing and 3 patients received alternative accommodation with charities. 6 patients were referred to other services including the first fit clinic, domestic violence service, the HIV clinic and the community mental health team. These outcomes are significant and life changing for these individuals and, considering the low cost of one phone (£26 per phone including top-up), application for further funding has been submitted.
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