The importance of a joined-up response to homelessness across hospital, primary care, and community services

The importance of a joined-up response to homelessness across hospital, primary care, and community services

As the CANCERLESS project concludes its three-year initiative focusing on cancer prevention for people experiencing homelessness, we reflect on the lessons learned and the insights gained from our journey. Under the overarching theme of integrated care, the session hosted by the project “Homelessness: Global Approaches to Providing Integrated Care Services for Those Experiencing Homelessness” at the International Conference on Integrated Care 2024 brought together experts and stakeholders to explore various aspects of providing comprehensive support to this deprivileged population.

One recurring theme across the presentations was the importance of a joined-up response to homelessness across hospital, primary care, and community services. This approach recognizes that individuals experiencing homelessness often face multiple and complex health needs, requiring a coordinated effort from various sectors to address their holistic well-being. By breaking down silos and fostering collaboration between healthcare providers, social services, and community organizations, we can ensure that individuals receive the support they need across different stages of their journey out of homelessness.  Another key aspect discussed was understanding the unique experiences of homeless women in high-income contexts. This session highlighted the importance of recognizing and addressing gender-specific factors that contribute to homelessness, such as domestic violence, childcare responsibilities, and access to healthcare. By tailoring interventions to the specific needs of women experiencing homelessness, we can provide more effective support and improve outcomes for this marginalized group. Collaboration emerged as a central theme throughout the sessions, emphasizing the need for a multidisciplinary and intersectoral vision of homelessness. By bringing together stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, including healthcare, housing, employment, and social services, we can develop comprehensive strategies that address the root causes of homelessness and provide individuals with the resources and support they need to rebuild their lives.

One recurring theme across the presentations was the importance of a joined-up response to homelessness across hospital, primary care, and community services. This approach recognizes that individuals experiencing homelessness often face multiple and complex health needs, requiring a coordinated effort from various sectors to address their holistic well-being. By breaking down silos and fostering collaboration between healthcare providers, social services, and community organizations, we can ensure that individuals receive the support they need across different stages of their journey out of homelessness.  Another key aspect discussed was understanding the unique experiences of homeless women in high-income contexts. This session highlighted the importance of recognizing and addressing gender-specific factors that contribute to homelessness, such as domestic violence, childcare responsibilities, and access to healthcare. By tailoring interventions to the specific needs of women experiencing homelessness, we can provide more effective support and improve outcomes for this marginalized group. Collaboration emerged as a central theme throughout the sessions, emphasizing the need for a multidisciplinary and intersectoral vision of homelessness. By bringing together stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, including healthcare, housing, employment, and social services, we can develop comprehensive strategies that address the root causes of homelessness and provide individuals with the resources and support they need to rebuild their lives.

Overall, these presentations contribute valuable insights to the theory and practice of integrated care by highlighting the importance of collaboration, understanding individual needs, and involving stakeholders with lived experience in the design and delivery of services. By adopting a holistic and person-centered approach, we can work towards addressing the underlying factors that contribute to homelessness and improve the health and well-being of these disadvantaged populations around the world.

Alejandro Gil-Salmerón
Senior Researcher
International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC)