G_CS_63 Guidance for Children and Families Homeless or Resident in Temporary or Supported Accommodation
Individuals are considered homeless if they have no home in the United Kingdom or anywhere else available for them to live. Even if an individual has somewhere to stay, they may still be considered homeless.
Families and children who are homeless or living in poor quality temporary accommodation can face great inequalities in accessing health services. It can impact upon their health, physical safety, enjoyment, personal achievement, schooling and life chances. Children and families living in temporary accommodation, often at a distance from previous support networks or those who move home frequently, can lead to individuals and families falling through the net and becoming disengaged from health, education, social care and welfare support systems. They may not be registered with a local GP or be known to local health services.
Homeless people may often leave health problems untreated until they reach a crisis point and then present inappropriately at A&E. This combines to make health problems more expensive to treat, hospital waiting lists longer and leads to people being less able to support themselves. It is important that effective systems are in place and essential that local authorities and health services work together to provide accessible and appropriate services if we are to tackle health inequalities and homelessness (OPDM 2004, Shelter 2010, DH 2010).
In order to improve the lives of homeless children and families providing early help is more effective than reacting later. Early help means providing support as soon as a problem emerges. Effective early help relies on agencies working together to identify children and families who require additional support, to undertake an assessment and provide targeted intervention and referral to appropriate voluntary and statutory agencies to improve outcomes for children and families (HM Government 2013).