Collaborations between several providers across York have highlighted the power of partnerships when providing services for people experiencing homelessness across the city.
One such initiative is ‘A Bed Ahead’, which is delivered by national charity Changing Lives, working with the NHS in York to provide emergency temporary accommodation for single homeless adults who are being discharged from hospital. The project provides intensive support to people, facilitating their access to sustainable accommodation and promoting continued improvement in health. Its primary aim is to prevent rough sleeping and avoid unnecessary re-admissions to hospital.
Sarah Coltman-Lovell, York Director for NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: "’A Bed Ahead’ has been quite literally life-changing for people most likely to face health inequalities because of their personal circumstances. It's testament to the power of partnership and collaboration that the scheme continues to thrive and I'm delighted the NHS has been able to play its part.”
Over the last six months, ‘A Bed Ahead’ has received 71 referrals for hospital patients, with 32 coming from the Emergency Department and 39 from inpatient wards. Of these, 80% are recorded as having delivered a positive outcome or intervention, with either accommodation being found, or advice and resources provided to prevent homelessness and hospital re-admissions. ‘A Bed Ahead’ staff have also supported people to attend 36 outpatient appointments.
Speaking about the success of this collaboration, Head of Housing and Homelessness at Changing Lives, Kelly Cunningham, said: "I remember back at the start of this project when we spent a long time searching for a catchy name for what is now ‘A Bed Ahead’, or more fondly known as ‘ABA’, we knew that actually, the name wasn't that important and we could have called it anything.
"What was important is how the project would continue to innovate and influence system change to ensure that people in York who have experienced exclusion and therefore, more likely to face health inequalities are given a voice, respect and dignity and access to healthcare and housing options. The outcomes have been incredible, the anecdotal stories I've heard are wonderful and that’s without mentioning the financial savings made across the wider system..."
Over the same time period, Changing Lives also worked with York Medical Group to support 213 primary care appointments for people experiencing homelessness, with both GP and Nurse clinics taking place at one of Changing Lives’ accommodation services. This partnership has also enabled a major vaccination outreach programme delivered across the city for people experiencing homelessness who were offered vaccinations against flu, pneumonia and Hep B, as well as Covid boosters.
Another partnership called ‘Kitchen for Everyone’ (KEY) saw Changing Lives partner with Dentaid to provide three sessions of emergency dental treatment. Almost 40 supported people have benefited from this scheme, which is funded by KEY, and coordinated and hosted by Changing Lives.
Speaking about the success of the collaborations, Sarah Coltman-Lovell, York Director for NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: "Setting aside the positive impact ‘A Bed Ahead’ is having on hospital readmissions, it's been lovely to hear from people with 'lived experience' of the service and how it's helped them get access to treatment, care and in some cases more permanent accommodation.
"More widely, York Medical Group has been particularly active in helping those people experiencing homelessness and its work is undoubtedly breaking down some of the barriers that exist that deter some people from accessing timely healthcare."