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February 7, 2024

Unveiling the impact: the role case management can play in tackling homelessness

Navigating homelessness is complicated and people experiencing homelessness often encounter multiple barriers when attempting to access the services they need to help rebuild their lives. 

Case management can be seen as a vital support system, delivered either by a whole team or just an individual who works carefully to figure out the help someone needs, planning for it and making sure they can access the right services. 

In March 2021, we embarked on a comprehensive research journey with Cardiff University and the University of Exeter to review over 100 studies.

Read the report here.

What we mean when we say ‘case management’

Case management is a term that covers the support given to people experiencing homelessness. It involves assessing an individual’s support needs, making plans, and helping them access various services. This support often includes practical help, skill development for independent living, onsite assistance during crises, and support with health care. 

Why review case management?

This project isn’t just about gathering information, it’s about making a real difference. Case management can profoundly impact housing, wellbeing and building the skills for those facing homelessness.

By diving into the details, this review allows us to identify the specific characteristics or traits of case management that prove to be most effective. Understanding what works in practice is essential for improving support systems and ensuring that case management approaches are tailored to create the most positive outcomes for individuals experiencing homelessness.

What we did

Across the UK case management is delivered and implemented in various ways, creating significant differences in the levels of support that an individual may receive. Wanting to understand the aspects of this service that were most supportive and effective at helping individuals experiencing homelessness, we analysed the practical impact of case management on homelessness.

We assessed both impact (how much it helps) and implementation (how it’s put into practice) with the goal of finding out what makes case management work for those experiencing homelessness.

What we found

Our research revealed significant insights

  • Case management, regardless of type, outperforms traditional care
  • Intensive support, involving service coordination and planning, is pivotal for enhancing housing stability
  • Housing First, a specialised case management model, stands out for its unconditional housing offers and personalised care
  • Some studies show that in-person meetings seem to help more with housing outcomes than a mix of in-person and remote approaches. What’s more important is that appointments are held in convenient locations
  • The evidence tells us that situations where there is no dedicated case manager might have better results than those with the same manager, however we do know that having continuity and a consistent point of contact is helpful

What next?

This review has helped us to understand more fully how case management can better help individuals navigating homelessness to access the support and services they need. Whilst this exploration reveals uncertainties regarding the optimal delivery of case management, we have been able to highlight a number of characteristics that prove most effective to help pave the way for more impactful support systems that can uplift individuals experiencing homelessness. We hope these insights become a catalyst for future work in the development of this service.

Read the report here.

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