Discharged home with no home to go to

Peer research is a distinct type of service user involvement extending the expertise of lived experience into research. In peer research people with direct experience are involved in designing, delivering and shaping research (Revolving Doors, 2016).The Homelessness Research Programme at the Social Care Workforce Research Unit is currently running two research projects involving peer researchers. The first is looking at specialist primary care and the second at hospital discharge arrangements for homeless people. Both projects recently ran training and induction days for their peer researchers. In this blog James Fuller and Alan Kilmister (Peer Researchers on the Hospital Discharge Project) describe how they became involved in peer research, how their experience can make a difference and why striving for impact and change must be at the heart of this kind of participatory methodology. (1,372 words)

James: I am currently working as a support worker in a ‘day centre’ for homeless people in London. The main motive for throwing myself into the hospital discharge research project is a strong sense of righteous indignation at the way the people who use our service are routinely returned there by hospital staff who should know we have no accommodation – the clue is in our title!

One man has been delivered to our car park three times this year, on two occasions in a taxi, always clutching his transparent bag of medicines and still wearing his ward wristband. All we can do is get him to see our wonderful specialist nurse at the earliest opportunity (she can only fit us in one day a week) and use our best first-aiding to tend any wounds.

In the dark days I was myself discharged from hospital detox onto the street, which meant I couldn’t access even daytime rehabs, not having a secure address in what had been my local borough for more than five years. I was back in detox six months later. In the interim I was put out of the Emergency Investigation Unit of a well-known London hospital in pretty short order and with nowhere to go. Such experiences stick in the mind. Continue reading

Providing formerly homeless people with the support that they need

Maureen Crane, Louise Joly and Jill Manthorpe introduce the final report of the Rebuilding Lives study, published today. (678 words)

Full reportHomeless people clearly need homes but in order to keep them and to rebuild their lives they also need access to resettlement programmes that offer long-term support. A major new study by Unit researchers provides detailed evidence of what works in helping formerly homeless people to sustain a tenancy and avoid further homelessness.

We maintained contact with a group of 297 homeless people over five years after they were rehoused. We were fortunate enough to gain funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Social Care Research to undertake this ground-breaking study. In the Rebuilding Lives study we investigated their experiences, the ‘ups and downs’ of settling down and building a more settled life. It is the largest and only UK study of its kind. One major finding is that just giving someone who has been homeless a tenancy is not the sole solution to homelessness, as many formerly homeless people are still vulnerable during the first few years after being rehoused. Many experience problems living independently, and require ongoing support from housing, health and social care services – help many do not receive. Continue reading