Health and Psychosocial Needs of Older Adults Who Are Experiencing Homelessness Following Hospital Discharge [2019]

Though hospitals are a common location where older adults experiencing homelessness receive health care, an understanding of the types of supports needed upon hospital discharge is limited. We examined the unique characteristics of older homeless adults and the health and psychosocial supports required upon hospital discharge.

Design and Methods
Guided by principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR), we conducted 20 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with shelter/housing and health care providers in Metro Vancouver.

Thematic analyses revealed 6 themes: (a) older people experiencing homelessness have unique vulnerabilities upon hospital discharge; (b) following hospital discharge, general population shelters are inappropriate for older adults; (c) shelter/housing options for older adults who have complex health and social needs are limited; (d) shelter/housing for older adults who require medical stabilization and convalescence after hospital discharge is needed; (e) a range of senior-specific shelter/housing options are needed; and (f) unique community supports are needed for older adults upon hospital discharge.

Discussion and Implications
As the population of older adults increases across North America, there is a parallel trend in the increased numbers of older adults who are experiencing homelessness. Not only is there often a need for ongoing medical care and respite, but there is a need for both shelter and housing options that can appropriately support individual needs.

Sarah L Canham, PhD, Karen Custodio, MSW, RSW, Celine Mauboules, MCIP, RRP, Chloe Good, Harvey Bosma, PhD, RSW
The Gerontologist, Volume 60, Issue 4, June 2020