Pioneering new scheme to provide joined-up care for homeless people

Improving the health and wellbeing of the homeless and other vulnerable people from excluded groups in Bradford is at the heart of a new scheme being pioneered by a GP practice in the city centre.

At its governing body meeting on Wednesday (4 Sept), Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will learn more about the scheme and hear from two people with experience of homelessness about the difficulties they faced in accessing health and social care.

Bevan Healthcare, a GP practice providing health and social care to homeless people, asylum seekers and refugees across the Bradford district, has teamed up with Pathway, a health charity working to improve the health of homeless people, to win Department of Health funding for the new pilot project.

Over the next 12 months a Bevan Pathway team will be formed in Bradford – the first place in the north of England to do this - to work with homeless people, vulnerable migrants and people from other excluded groups who get admitted to hospital.

Dr Akram Khan, clinical chair of Bradford City CCG, said:
“Bevan Healthcare already provides a unique service to some of the most socially excluded groups of people in Bradford, who often struggle to access mainstream health services. This exciting new project will extend that work into the hospital setting so that patients are given a real chance to move on with the help and support they need.”

Pathway has already shown that an integrated care coordination team can improve outcomes for homeless patients so they have less repeat hospital admissions and shorter stays for further admissions. The Bradford team can also help join-up health and social care services so patients have support and access to other services when they leave hospital.

The team aims to use a patient’s stay in hospital as an opportunity to review their whole care needs – across housing, social care, mental health, and drug and alcohol services. Patients will also be supported to look at their own situation, and think about a different life pathway when they leave hospital.

Two people who have experienced homelessness firsthand are Gary Staniforth and Emmerson Walgrove. They will tell Bradford City CCG’s governing body about how the Bevan Pathway could have helped them when they were vulnerable and needed support to access health and social care services.
“It is really important that if you catch people at crisis point you don’t let them go, but keep them engaged and connected,” said Gary. “At one point I had nowhere to go and I know the damage that can be done if you don’t have any support.”

While homeless, Emmerson had a severe asthma attack and ended up in hospital. “No-one asked me where I had been staying and no-one asked me if I had anywhere to go,” he said.

The Bevan Pathway scheme will reveal levels of hidden local health needs and inequalities among this vulnerable group of people. This important information will help Bradford City CCG and its other health and social care partners to understand these people’s needs and plan services around them.

Bradford City CCG’s governing body is holding its meeting in public at Carlisle Business Centre, 60 Carlisle Road, BD8 8BD, on Wednesday 4 September at 1pm. The agenda and associated papers are available here.

If you would like to tell the CCG about your experiences please contact: engage@bradford.nhs.uk   Local people can also become members of their practice patient participation group or get in touch with Healthwatch Bradford and District at www.healthwatchbradford.co.uk