Background Homelessness is increasing in Worcestershire, as it is nationally (Worcestershire’s Strategic Direction for Tackling Homelessness 2018– 2021). Homeless people have complex health needs and die 30 years younger than the general population (Webb, 2017). With a commitment to ensuring all those needing specialist palliative care have access, St Richard’s Hospice explored the gap with homeless services.
Aims Build relationships with homeless services to increase communication and awareness: exchange specialist knowledge; support conversations around dying and end of life wishes and improve end of life for homeless people with specialist palliative care needs in Worcestershire.
Methods Multi-agency meeting: The hospice initiated a multi-agency meeting to bridge the communication and awareness gap between homeless services and hospice support. Local hostels, outreach providers and Police are represented. Hospice and partners explore ways to collaborate to improve access and awareness of end of life care.
Surveys: The hospice undertook an online survey to those working with the homeless community to explore palliative and bereavement training needs. We replicated the survey for hospice staff to identify training needs when supporting someone experiencing homelessness.
Results Multi-agency meetings: There is greater communication whereby services contact one another when necessary. As a result of the relationships, the hospice delivered a Dying Matters workshop for hostel staff and residents. Residents felt listened to, whilst hostel staff felt equipped to have conversations about end of life with residents.
Surveys: To fulfil the educational needs identified by the external survey, there are plans to use Extension of Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO™) and invite homelessness workers to information sessions and hospice tours. In response to the internal survey, we have held educational talks and information circulated in staff newsletters.
Conclusion St Richard’s Hospice made progress in bridging the gap between hospice and homeless services by working alongside homeless partners to share specialist knowledge and build links collaboratively.
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