After COVID-19: six actions integrated care systems (ICS) should take to better support people experiencing homelessness

Today Groundswell, Crisis, St Mungo’s and The Strategy Unit have launched a joint statement outlining six vital actions the health and care sector should take to support people experiencing homelessness, following COVID-19.

It’s grounded in research conducted by the four organisations, which paints a clear picture of the impact of the pandemic on people experiencing homelessness and lessons to be learned.

The six recommended actions sit within two areas:

Improving health outcomes

1. NHS England should develop one framework of indicators that all services should strive to meet to ensure everyone can access services. This will reduce health inequalities and help local area partnerships between health and care organisations (known as ‘integrated care systems’) to work together

2. The NHS should take a more visible, strategic lead to support Action 1

3. Local health and care providers should come together to make sure people are not digitally excluded from services

4. Local area partnerships between health and care organisations, known as ‘integrated care systems’, should monitor access to frontline sources of support, or ‘Primary Care’, such as GPs.

Improving access to housing and support

5. The Government and Local Authorities should ensure people can access emergency accommodation

6. Close working relationships developed during the pandemic should be maintained.

Listening to lived experience is key

The joint statement signs off with lived experience as its overarching message: the response to the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted once again just how crucial including the voices of people with lived experience from the outset, is.

Insights from the four organisations’ research showed that in some cases, well-intentioned responses to the pandemic had negative consequences for people which could have been reduced.

It’s vital that good practice is replicated going forwards.

Dr Jo Brown, Groundswell Research Manager, said:

“This statement brings together significant insight from research carried out throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to outline how the system can better meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness.

As parts of the health and care system come together as ICS’s, it is vital that this learning is harnessed so that good practice is built upon and barriers are addressed by listening to lived experience ”.

Find out more

Read the joint statement

– Read the research conducted by the four contributory organisations:

#COVIDstories: Read citizen journalist reports from people who have experienced homelessness during COVID-19, a project with On Our Radar

– Find out about Groundswell’s #HealthNow campaign