Title : Strengthening community partnerships: Improving health outcomes among persons experiencing homelessness
Homelessness is a major public and social health problem. For years, nurses have been on the frontline with a substantial and significant role in caring for the most vulnerable populations in guiding, assisting, and aiding the homeless to access health and social services as well as helping them to navigate out of homelessness.
A unique partnership between a College of Nursing and a homeless shelter was created to provide onsite medical oversight and coordination of care for individuals experiencing homelessness. Prior to this partnership there were no staff working at the shelter with a medical or nursing background which led to clients being sent to the hospital for non-emergent health issues and less than optimal coordination of care for clients with health issues. Through this partnership, the health needs of individuals experiencing homeless are managed and supported by a doctorally prepared registered nurse with a background in community health and coordination of care.
Summary of the Innovation or Practice:
The overarching goal of this partnership is to improve access to care for individuals experiencing homeless and to improve health outcomes in this population. Oftentimes, if a resident at this homeless shelter needs to be seen by a healthcare provider, the shelter staff must arrange for the individual to be sent to the emergency room which is not best practices for the client as well as leads to a financial burden for the client and the hospital. This is not the most optimal or beneficial way to provide care for that client. Receiving care should not be a burden to the individual, the facility, or the hospital. Through a unique partnership between a homeless shelter and a College of Nursing, the provision of an onsite doctorally prepared registered nurse who provides coordination of care has expanded access to care, reduced emergency room utilization, and has improved health outcomes in this vulnerable and underserved patient population.