What is this intervention?
Discharge programmes coordinate services for people at risk of homelessness who are being discharged from institutional settings such as hospital, prison or the military.
Common elements of discharge programmes are: (1) identification of a person as homeless or at risk of homelessness while in the institutional setting; (2) measures taken to address any complex needs while the person is in the institution; (3) collaboration between health, social care and housing agencies and other relevant bodies to formulate a discharge plan; (4) safe discharge to appropriate accommodation and services.
What is its goal?
The main goal of discharge programmes is to ensure that when people are discharged from institutional settings they have accommodation and services in place to help them avoid homelessness.
For individuals being discharged from hospital or prison, support and care before and after discharge is intended reduce the risk of readmission or reoffending.
People who experience homelessness are more likely to have psychiatric or medical needs that require periods of inpatient care in institutions such as psychiatric hospitals, general hospitals, or rehabilitation centres. People who are homeless are also more likely to have spent time in prison. Without coordination between relevant bodies such as social care providers, housing agencies, police and mental health teams, there is a risk of people being discharged from these institutions into homelessness and without the necessary services in place. This in turn increases the risk that they will end up being rehospitalised or back in prison. People in the armed forces are also at risk of homelessness on discharge from military service.
This intervention ensures that individuals are discharged into appropriate accommodation with access to support services. This means they are less likely to become homeless in the future and have a better chance of complete recovery from both physical and mental illness. These programmes also promote a more individualised approach to clinical practice to ensure that the individual’s specific, and likely complex, needs are addressed fully. If people being discharged from prison have the right support and accommodation in place they are less likely to reoffend.