Saturday, March 19, 2016

Housing Outcomes & Predictors of Success: The Role of Hospitalization in Street Outreach

What is known on the subject? 
  • Outreach services are often successful in engaging and housing street homeless individuals. People experiencing homelessness have greatly increased rates of mental illness and substance abuse. 
What this paper adds to existing knowledge? 
  • Given the relative lack of research involving street homeless individuals, this retrospective chart review examined factors associated with successful housing by a multidisciplinary street outreach team, including the use of hospitalization as an intervention within a housing first framework. The majority of clients were successfully housed by the end of outreach team involvement. An admission to hospital was strongly associated with successful housing for those with a psychotic disorder. 
What are the implications for practice? 
  • Multidisciplinary outreach teams, specifically those with psychiatric and nursing support, successfully work with and house people experiencing street homelessness and psychosis. Mental health nurses embedded in the community are an essential link between inpatient and outpatient care for highly vulnerable street homeless individuals.
Housing-first strategies have helped establish housing as a human right. However, endemic homelessness persists. Multidisciplinary outreach teams that include nursing, social and psychiatric services allow for integrative strategies to engage and support clients on their housing trajectory. 

The following retrospective review focused on the identification of demographic, clinical, and service characteristics that predicted the obtainment of housing, and explored the role of psychiatric hospitalization as an intervention, not an outcome measure, in contrast to previous studies. These have rarely focused on street homelessness. 

A retrospective chart review of 85 homeless, primarily rough-sleeping, clients was conducted to determine housing outcomes and the factors associated with obtaining housing through care provided by a psychiatric street outreach team in Toronto, Canada. Demographics, homelessness duration, diagnosis, hospitalization and housing status were tracked during team involvement. 

Overall, 46% (36/79) were housed during the study term. Securing housing at the end of treatment/data collection was significantly enhanced by hospitalization. It was significantly diminished by psychosis and prior homelessness >36 months . Twenty-three of 31 (74%) hospitalized clients with psychosis were subsequently housed, compared to 4 of 30 (13%) not hospitalized. 

Multidisciplinary street outreach teams successfully house long-standing homeless clients (>12 months without a permanent address) with serious mental illness and/or substance abuse. Hospitalization can be utilized as a complimentary intervention, particularly for those with psychosis, in the continuum of housing first initiatives, and can contribute to securing housing for those with persistent psychotic disorders. 

Implications for nursing practice Community mental health nurses are uniquely positioned to translate care between hospital and community settings, ensuring timely assessment, intervention and treatment of clients who are historically difficult to engage.

Purchase full article at:

  • 1Department of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto.
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto.
  • 3Department of Economics, University of Toronto, Toronto. 
  •  2016 Mar;23(2):98-107. doi: 10.1111/jpm.12287.

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