Reducing the barriers to healthcare for Hackney’s homeless and vulnerable adults

Local housing providers and commissioners should work together to develop a service that streams health and social care information on digital screens where homeless people live or congregate, a a recent report from Peter Bedford Housing Association (PBHA) has recommended.

The study, conducted as part of Healthwatch Hackney and the City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group’s Fund for Health project, explored the barriers vulnerable and homeless adults face in accessing good health and social care in Hackney.

Lack of accessible information – along with money and transport – were among the significant barriers service users faced in obtaining the support they needed.

Less than a third of the 95 respondents found it ‘easy’ to access mental health, sexual health, drug and alcohol and physical activity and obesity services.

Most preferred to receive information about services face to face or through direct communications such as a letter or email. Half of respondents did not use the internet and few used online sources of information such as the NHS Choices or Hackney iCare.

Other recommendations for boosting access to health and social care in the City and Hackney included:
• Exploring the development of digital interactive information points at venues across the Housing and Homelessness sector
• Promoting Hackney iCare and NHS Choices across the Housing and Homelessness sector.

The findings of the survey were based on a staff-member survey, a service-user survey, two focus group discussions and six short interviews, which gave insight into the lived experiences of homeless and other vulnerable adults resident in Hackney as they navigate Health and Social Care services. 95 respondents completed a detailed service-user questionnaire which was supplemented by focus groups and interviews.