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PATIENT SAFETY


disability or physical disability or other special reason, or with whom such a person resides or might reasonably be expected to reside


l A person aged 16 or 17 who is not a ‘relevant child’ or a child in need to whom a local authority owes a duty


l A person under 21 who was (but is no longer) looked after, accommodated or fostered between the ages of 16 and 18 (except a person who is a ‘relevant student’)


l A person aged 21 or more who is vulnerable because of having been looked after, accommodated or fostered (except a person who is a ‘relevant student’)


l A person who is vulnerable because of having been a member of Her Majesty’s regular naval, military or air forces.


A person who is vulnerable because of: l Having served a custodial sentence l Having been committed for contempt of court or any other kindred offence


l Having been remanded in custody l A person who is vulnerable because of ceasing to occupy accommodation because of violence from another person or threats of violence from another person that are likely to be carried out


l A person who is homeless, or threatened with homelessness, as a result of an emergency such as flood, fire or other disaster.


The duty allows service users to choose which local housing authority they are referred to. However, when discussing the referral to the service user, the guidance advises to be aware that local housing authorities owe more duties towards homeless applicants who have a local connection with their area. If a person asks to be referred to an area they do not have a local connection to, the local housing authority might refer them on to another local housing authority to which they do have a local connection.


Process for referrals


The Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health in consultation with health providers has developed a downloadable example referral form for hospitals1


to use. This is


is available that can be used by public authorities to make a referral.


What happens when someone is referred?


When a referral is received by the local housing authority they will contact the service user. The guidance advises they should provide a receipt of referral, which may be in the form of an automatic email reply. If the service user won’t consent to a referral, referrals may be made to safeguard children or vulnerable adults, in accordance with safeguarding procedures. The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, which introduced the duty to refer, came into force 3 April 2018 and introduced new duties for local housing authorities to help prevent the homelessness of all families and single people, regardless of priority need. Under the new duties in the Act, local housing authorities now offer individuals who are homeless or threatened with


designed to be used alongside the duty to refer health services checklist.2 Local housing authorities are advised to work with NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts in their area to design effective referral mechanisms that meet their local circumstances. Local housing authorities should place information on their websites explaining what their referral mechanisms are. However, NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts may make a referral to a local housing authority in any manner they wish providing they include the minimum information required by law: contact details, consent and agreed reason for referral. Where a local housing authority has not established referral mechanisms or not provided information about their mechanisms, or if the referral is coming from another part of the country, a form3


homelessness a greater package of advice and support. The Act was established in a bid to help more people get the help they need earlier and to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place. The Act introduced new duties for local housing authorities (LHAs), which changes the way they respond to housing referrals. It has introduced an enhanced prevention duty, which requires LHAs to take reasonable steps for 56 days to help prevent any eligible person who is at risk of homelessness from becoming homeless. This means either helping them to stay in their current accommodation or helping them to find a new place to live. Where an eligible person has sought help from the LHA when they are already homeless or if homelessness prevention work has not been successful, they will be owed a new 56-day relief duty. The relief duty requires LHAs to take reasonable steps to help secure accommodation for any eligible person who is homeless. The new homelessness prevention and relief duties are owed to all eligible applicants, regardless of whether they have a priority need or would be found to be intentionally homeless. This means that on receipt of a health sector referral the local authority will contact the person and confirm their circumstances, which in most cases will trigger a homeless application and provision of help to prevent them being homeless. The Act should ensure interventions begin earlier, to help address problems that might lead to homelessness.


Hastings outreach project


The Digital health care outreach project has already helped hundreds of homeless people in Hastings, and, according to Annie Whelan, chief officer at Seaview, the digitisation of health and care is inevitable. “Being chosen as a site for a digital health pathfinder focusing on homelessness was a wonderful opportunity for Seaview,” Annie said. “The digitisation of health and care 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. Working with Good Things Foundation as a partner has also been wonderfully empowering as they have very much been concerned about improving the experience and digital health journeys of those that are homeless or rough sleeping.”


References


1 https://www.pathway.org.uk/wp- content/uploads/Standards-Appendix-1-HRA- Referral-Form-v02-August-18.docx


2 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ homelessness-duty-to-refer-for-nhs-staff


3 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ homelessness-duty-to-refer


MAY 2019 WWW.CLINICALSERVICESJOURNAL.COM I 49


CSJ


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