Healthcare Policy

Healthcare Policy 16(1) August 2020 : 22-26.doi:10.12927/hcpol.2020.26293
Discussion and Debate

Commentary: Discharging the Homeless – A Daily Issue in Acute Care

Cheryl Forchuk


There are complex issues surrounding hospital discharge planning for people experiencing homelessness. The issue involves the disconnection across policy areas of housing, income supports and mental health, and later health generally. Different models for different types of communities (large urban, mid-size, small and rural areas) likely need to be developed as well as for different types of conditions and different housing histories. The quality of data needs improvement including accuracy. Housing items need to be part of admission processes so that the need for post-discharge housing can be quickly flagged and more accurate data can be made available. System improvements need to include all levels of government, people with lived experience, and health as well as housing/homeless sectors. The income support sector also needs to be included. Discharge planning often assumes there is a fixed address after discharge. This clearly misses the needs of people who have lost their housing.



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