Digital outreach programme boosts health of homeless people in Hastings


A digital outreach programme is helping authorities monitor the health of homeless and insecurely housed people in Hastings.

So far the programme has helped 122 homeless people in the seaside town by using technology to improve how outreach workers respond to their healthcare needs.

The team communicates with St John’s ambulance to access clinical opinions on injuries and symptoms of rough sleepers.

The project, which is a partnership between NHS Digital, NHS England, charities Good Things Foundation and The Seaview Project, has been using digital technology to record and triage health concerns of rough sleepers.

Computers have also been set up in The Seaview Project’s wellbeing centre and partner sites to increase the number of places rough sleepers can access sites, like the NHS website and patient online services, to help them take control of their health.

Digital health champions are also on hand at the local library and wellbeing centre to help people access the sites.

By gaining access to patient sites users of the Seaview service were better at following medication for long-term conditions.

Annie Whelan, chief officer at Seaview said: “The digitisation of health and care is inevitable, and it could either result in further exclusion for our client group or greater sensitivity and understanding.

“Having the resource and backing to trial real support ideas in practice has helped us to work on achieving greater accessibility and to break down barriers.”

Homeless people have a considerably lower life expectancy, with a mortality rate 10 times higher than the general population, due in part to them being less likely to seek treatment for a medical problem.

They also have limited to no access to technology to help manage their conditions, but since having someone available to help them use the internet to better understand their condition users of the programme say they’re more likely to visit a GP in the future.

The programme is one of 20 digital pathfinders being run across the country to test new ways to help people better use digital health tools.

A similar project is being run in London, where homeless charity, Pathway, partnered up with supplier EMIS Health to launch a digital health-screening template specifically designed for people who sleep rough.

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