Homeless populations

Background scenario

Michael is 37 years old and was released from prison 7 months ago. He had been imprisoned for 5 years after he was found to be in possession of heroin. Upon his release his wife refused to let him move back into the family home. He has since spent time staying between various forms of temporary accommodation, including hostels run by the council, friends’ sofas and unoccupied buildings. He has also spent the occasional night sleeping outside when he had nowhere else to go. He has continued to inject heroin and smokes cigarettes, and will occasionally use benzodiazepines. He has also started to drink heavily throughout the day, and says the drugs and alcohol “help him cope”. After having some of his few possessions stolen by a fellow resident in a hostel, he has found it difficult to sleep at night since he finds it difficult to trust people. As a result, he often feels stressed and anxious and occasionally experiences panic attacks. When cash is running really low, he is forced to beg in the city centre but feels ashamed when doing so. He has experienced verbal abuse and taunts from passers-by, as well as threats from others staying in his accommodation. Fort he past few weeks, he has begun to have thoughts about killing himself. He has also been experiencing severe toothache during the night. Others have advised him to seek help from health professionals b u t he has heard of other homeless people having bad experiences when doing so. He is afraid of being stigmatised.

The Challenge

How might we remove some of the barriers to healthcare encountered by Michael and others experiencing homelessness?

Challenge Sponsor

Dr Fernando Fernandes, School of Education and Social Work

Further reading

Homeless Link – Links to homeless health research

The unhealthy state of homelessness – Health audit results 2014