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Healthcare technology for the homeless


Homeless and insecurely housed people in Hastings now have access to medical treatment and support, thanks to an innovative digital healthcare outreach project.


A digital healthcare outreach project has helped 122 homeless people in Hastings by using technology to improve how outreach workers respond to the healthcare needs of their clients. The team communicates with St John’s ambulance to get clinical opinions on injuries and symptoms. The homeless people who were


supported through the project became more motivated and confident in managing their health conditions, symptoms and behaviours. By gaining access to online health and medicines information on the NHS website, Seaview service users were better at following medication for long-term conditions and managing their side effects. The project, which is a partnership between NHS Digital, NHS England, Good Things Foundation and The Seaview Project, has been using digital technology to record and triage health concerns of rough sleepers. Those who visit the wellbeing centre and other public spaces are also being encouraged to use the internet to access health information. Good Things Foundation is a digital and social inclusion charity with the aim of creating a world where everyone can benefit from digital technology. The organisation helps people to overcome social challenges, building a digitally included society and


supporting people to grow their essential skills. Good Things Foundation supports the 5000-strong Online Centres Network – a network of community organisations that help people to improve their digital skills, and to overcome other barriers to inclusion. Good Things Foundation is running a three-year programme - Widening Digital Participation - funded by NHS Digital. Widening Digital Participation aims to reduce digital exclusion in the UK, and ensure people have the skills they need to access relevant health information and health services online. Phase 2 of the programme will run from April 2017 to March 2020, following Phase 1 which was delivered between 2013 and 2016. Phase 2 will particularly focus on developing interventions and models that support the furthest first. During Phase 2 the programme will work with 20 Pathfinder projects across England. Projects will be


Homeless people have a considerably lower life expectancy and a 10 times greater standardised mortality rate than the general population.


MAY 2019


focused on working in partnership across an area, working with local authorities, NHS testbeds, vanguards, health and wellbeing boards, Public Health England and other local initiatives. The Seaview Project is a non-profit organisation with an open access wellbeing centre offering help and inspiration for people living on society’s margins. Seaview’s range of support services help marginalised people with addiction problems, mental health issues, ex- and at-risk offenders and rough sleepers achieve personal growth and fulfilment. For the outreach project, computers have been set up in partner sites to increase the number of places people experiencing homelessness can access health-information websites, such as the NHS website and Patient Online Services. Digital Health champions are also on hand at the local library and well-being centre to help people access the digital health information devices. Homeless people have a considerably lower life expectancy and a 10 times greater standardised mortality rate than the general population. This is in part due to rough sleepers being less likely to seek treatment for a medical problem where the general public would, which can result in premature death.


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