homeless man with dog on street

Homeless Healthcare Cluster

Our research is aimed at understanding and improving the healthcare experiences of some of the most disadvantaged groups of people in the UK. 

group of tents for homeless people on street

Cluster Leads:

Dr Paul Whybrow
Prof Joanne Reeve

Group Members:

Liz Price
Liz Walker
Nicola O’Leary
Kay Brady
Tom Phillips

PhD Students:

Steph Busby
Becci Lee

The Challenge

Homelessness is a complex concept that describes a heterogenous population. Existing research is this area is interdisciplinary and overlaps critical issues across housing, social inequalities, ethics, and law. Our research is health-focus and pragmatic: aimed at understanding and improving the healthcare experiences of some of the most excluded and disadvantaged groups of people in the UK. This research involves vulnerable and ‘hard to reach’ people, which presents particular challenges for ethical and effective data collection and participant involvement.

It is estimated that 90 families become homeless every day in the UK (Shelter, 2022). Homelessness describes a diverse range of experiences, from rough sleeping to living in a hostel. These circumstances are characterised by poverty, vulnerability, and barriers to accessing basic amenities and comforts. People experiencing homelessness (PEH) often struggle to access appropriate healthcare services, despite being at higher risk of poor health (Fazel et al 2016). The average age of death for a PEH is 44 years for men and 42 for women, compared to 76 years for men and 81 years for women in the general population (ONS 2018). A study by Aldridge et al (2019) found that many of these premature deaths were due to routine and treatable conditions and could have been avoided through timely and effective healthcare.

The Approach

Three independent project study different aspects of homeless healthcare. These unique projects are primarily informed by health sciences, which means they are based on scholarly review of the evidence and collection of primary data. All three projects are primarily qualitative and theoretically informed.

The Homeless Healthcare Research Cluster aims to better understand these challenges through three funded PhD projects. These are qualitative and mixed methods studies exploring transgender health experiences, management of chronic disease and models for person-centred care. Supported by ICHAR and Academy of Primary Care, the goal of our cluster is to understand the healthcare challenges of PEH and to develop innovative approaches to more inclusive and effective healthcare services.

The Impact

This cluster will develop an interdisciplinary research hub around inclusion health and homeless healthcare that brings together academics and professionals. The aim is to develop innovative approaches to tackling the challenges of homeless healthcare and to inform service provision.  We aim to better represent the interests of people experiencing homeless within research and healthcare services.