Clinical

Our clinical nursing articles aim to inform and educate nurse practitioners and students. This is achieved through the publication of peer-reviewed, evidence-based, relevant and topical articles.

Mental health service provision for single homeless people: findings from a freedom of...

Why you should read this article: • To increase your awareness of the ways in which single homeless people may be underserved by mainstream care pathways • To learn about the findings of a study that explored the nature and commissioning of mental health services for the single homeless population • To understand the value of using Freedom of Information requests to explore organisations’ awareness of mental health inequalities Background Homeless people are at increased risk of developing mental health conditions and mental ill-health can be a precipitating factor for episodes of homelessness. However, gaps in mental health provision for homeless people remain, and they often experience barriers to accessing appropriate care. Local area clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – which were absorbed into integrated care systems in July 2022 – have a significant role in addressing the healthcare needs of this group. Aim To generate information from English CCGs that provides an insight into the nature and commissioning of mental health services for the single homeless population. Method Data were obtained via freedom of information requests sent to 208 individual CCGs. Information that could be meaningfully analysed was obtained regarding 180 CCGs, and this was subjected to content analysis to identify emergent themes. Findings Analysis of the information provided revealed variable levels of provision and awareness in relation to homeless mental health. Responses from 140 CCGs (78%) explicitly acknowledged that they did not commission any specific provision to meet the mental health needs of homeless people. Of the responses received, 30 (17%) included reference to specialist mental health services and teams for homeless people in the area served by the CCG. Conclusion This study found that, in relation to mental health care for single homeless people, there are inconsistencies in CCGs regarding the fulfilment of their duty to reduce inequalities in accessing healthcare services. The findings further evidence concerns that the needs of this population are not adequately met in many areas and that there may be limited awareness of suitable access arrangements.

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