London

Helping medical patients in London avoid homelessness when they leave hospital

The federal government has announced $223,000 in funding to help homeless patients being discharged from London hospital medical wards find a place to stay.

The federal government funds a program that help patients find a place to live

Adam Vaughan, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, announces funding for a project that will help London medical patients at risk of homelessness find a place to stay when they're discharged from hospital. (Gary Ennett/CBC)

The federal government has announced $223,000 in funding to help homeless patients being discharged from London hospital medical wards find a place to stay.

The announcement was made in London on Monday by Adam Vaughan, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

Vaughan said one of the things the government has discovered is that that a lot of institutional housing "projects put people into homelessness."  He said jails, foster care facilities and hospitals simply "swing the door open" and wish discharged clients good luck.

"And the reality is there's a gap between the hospital door and the person's next home. And what the money we announced today helps to do is bridge that divide between the hospital door and the apartment door."

He said phase two of the so-called No Fixed Address project also acknowledges that "even if you get (discharged patients) into an apartment, they still need support to be thriving and successful."

The program is directed by Dr. Cheryl Forchuck, a researcher at Western university and an assistant director at the Lawson Health Research Institute.

Dr. Cheryl Forchuck, an assistant director at the Lawson Health Research Institute, says the goal is to solve a housing problem before patients leave the hospital. (Gary Ennett/CBC)

She said they're hiring a housing advocate to work with in-patient medical wards at both campuses of the London Health Sciences Centre. 

Forhuck said it means if someone in a medical ward doesn't have a place to go after being discharged, the problem will be solved before they leave the hospital.

"We have experts … to get the right income support … to help them find a place. So basically, they go to a home after discharge."

Forchuck said the project will reveal more about the number of people on medical wards with housing issues and what their experiences are.

Problem confirmed

So far, she said, 17 people have accessed the service since it began in July. This, she said, "validates that it is a common problem."

The project will follow the patients up to six months after they're released from hospital to make sure they're still in the housing that was provided.

Forchuck said the money announced Monday will fund the service for one-year, but she added, Lawson will be seeking a renewal after that.

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