Background People experiencing homelessness have a high rate of most long-term conditions at a young age and are at high risk of dying young. Many people with complex and advanced physical and mental health problems are living in homeless hostels, and rarely have access to palliative care support. Hostel staff are often left to support people with inadequate health and social care input. In response, we created an online programme of learning to facilitate development of multidisciplinary communities of practice for people from different professional backgrounds in the same geographic location to connect.
Aims To develop and pilot a programme to:
Develop communities of practice to promote inter-professional working and support.
Develop shared understanding of palliative care and the different roles and services involved in the support of people experiencing homelessness.
Improve access to care for people experiencing homelessness with advanced ill health.
Learning from the pilot will be used to adapt the programme prior to national roll out.
Methods The programme, containing eight online sessions, was piloted in three locations. Topics relating to homelessness, inclusion health and palliative care were included. Sessions consisted of pre-recorded content and discussions focussing on shared learning and case discussions, acting as a vehicle for developing a multi-professional response to challenges encountered in real time. Data were collected via surveys and focus groups throughout, and after completion of sessions.
Results A range of homelessness, health and social care professionals attended the programme. Pilot data provided insight into the perceived usefulness of the programme in terms of connecting and empowering professionals and access to care and services. The importance of including a wide range of professional groups was highlighted and national roll out recommended.
Conclusion/Discussion To address the inequity that exists in palliative care access for people experiencing homelessness, a joined up, supportive, multi-professional response is essential. Online community of practice programmes are one way of achieving this.
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