Project Improves Access to Healthcare for the Homeless through Technology

NHS can improve continuous care thanks to changes to secondary legislation

A project by NHS Digital, Good Things Foundation, The Seaview Project and NHS England has helped 122 homeless people across Hastings receive healthcare thanks to innovative technology. The technology has helped to improve the way that outreach workers communicate with St John’s ambulance. With this communication, it allows outreach workers to receive clinical opinions in relation to injuries and healthcare needs.

With this clinical support, homeless people became more motivated to look after their health conditions. Furthermore, they were able to grow more confident in recognising symptoms thanks to having online access to health and medicines information.

The project utilised digital technology to record any health conditions for homeless and rough sleepers in Hastings. Then, those who visit public spaces were then advised to seek out health information using the internet. A number of partner sites were set up in the area to allow homeless people to access the NHS website and Patient Online Services. The wellbeing centre and local library enlisted Digital Health Champions to be available to help people obtain their required health information.

The project has come due to the low levels of digital confidence among homeless people. Furthermore, homeless people have a much lower life expectancy, with ten times greater standardised mortality compared to the rest of the general population. Part of the reason for this is the fact that the homeless population is less likely to seek treatment for any medical problems.

However, with the new project, homeless people are more likely to seek online help for medical conditions in a safe, trusted environment. The Seaview Project have established trust among the local rough sleeping community which has allowed them to improve health literacy. By building trust, the project has seen that more users have been willing to re-engage with their GP services.

Another driving factor behind the project is the Widening Digital Participation Programme set forward by the NHS. The programme aims to make health information more accessible, especially to those most excluded in society.

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