For those experiencing homelessness, poor physical and mental health is a major challenge, and ill health is more prevalent than within the general population. The nature of homelessness means there are significant barriers to accessing health care for those experiencing homelessness.

We worked with Groundswell through 2015 to evaluate its Homeless Health Peer Advocacy (HHPA) service, which offers one-to-one support for homeless people. In addition to accompanying people to appointments and paying travel fares, the service aims to build skills and confidence to enable clients to continue to access health services independently; whilst working with health staff to increase their understanding and skills to support homeless people more effectively.

We worked closely with those experiencing homelessness and HHPA’s peer advocates as well as Groundswell staff, funders and stakeholders to look at the health outcomes they want to achieve, and evaluate the service in relation to these. We also worked closely with Groundswell to train peer advocates to carry out some of the research, empowering them to tell their stories and the stories of those they support.

The evaluation shows that the Groundswell Homeless Health Peer Advocacy Programme delivers great results for clients, helping them to improved health, and has associated benefits for the health service.  Peer Advocates supports them to increase their knowledge, confidence and motivation to engage more proactively with their health and manage their healthcare needs.  This translates into increased attendance at scheduled appointments and a decreased reliance on secondary and unplanned care, both of which can lead to significant cost savings for the NHS as well as ensuring that clients are receiving the most appropriate form of healthcare in a timely manner.

You can read the full evaluation read here.

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