Raising awareness of the experiences of homeless people

With over 4,000 people estimated to be sleeping rough every night across England, we take a look at what local Healthwatch have been doing to understand the experiences of people in their community when it comes to health and care.
A young woman holding a cup of tea

1. Some people don't feel supported

After speaking to almost 100 homeless people in the area, Healthwatch Lancashire found that most people turn to local voluntary organisations for help as they don’t receive support from the council and NHS. Nearly a quarter of the homeless people they spoke to said they did not feel listened to the last time they visited a health service.

2. Others say their views aren't listened to

Residents in Kingston upon Thames were given an insight into the realities of being homeless through an art exhibition. Healthwatch Kingston upon Thames worked with local organisations to showcase photographs taken by homeless people to raise awareness and highlight the struggles of people whose voices are not always heard. 

3. Some people have difficulties accessing essential services

After carrying out a mystery shopping exercise, Healthwatch Stoke-on-Trent found that nearly half of local GP practices were wrongly turning away homeless people. Homeless people often need help from services, such as social care or mental health. However, without being able to register with a GP it would be difficult to be referred for further support.

4. Some did not feel treated with dignity and respect

Local Healthwatch in Waltham Forest wanted to understand the experiences of the homeless community in the area to help improve services. Almost half of the people they spoke to said they weren’t registered with a GP, and those that were, found it difficult to get an appointment.

Homeless people felt services treated them with lack of dignity and respect, and in some cases their quality of care was also affected. Most homeless people in the area had positive experiences of visiting a pharmacist and thought they were a valuable service.

5. People want to be given a choice

Healthwatch Bristol listened to the experiences and feedback of homeless people in the area on the health and care services they access. They received over 126 comments, which identified that access to services was poor. Homeless people felt services should respect their needs, ensure information is clear, that they are listened to and given choice

Share your thoughts

You can help make health and care services better by sharing your experiences and ideas. Talk to your local Healthwatch.

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