Health & homelessness in Aberdeen City: a report for the Scottish Health Council.
Love, John G.
Love, Ann P.
Sutton, Philip W.
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1. Background According to the latest official figures, 1900 households presented themselves as homeless in Aberdeen City in the year 2005/2006 (Scottish Executive 2006). The problems faced by homeless people in Aberdeen and elsewhere have already been documented in terms of inadequate housing, family and relationship breakdown, unemployment, multiple debt, reliance on benefits and low income. (Love, 1993, 1997, 2002; Spicker, Love, Strangward, McLaverty & Strachan, 2002). Such multiple and linked problems serve to marginalise homeless people relegating them to ways of life outside of mainstream society. A corollary of such exclusion is the relatively high levels of poor health (both physical and mental) found among the homeless population. Hence, physical hardship, accidents, inadequate resources to practice personal hygiene, poor diet, stress, difficulty registering with a GP, a lack of preventative care, a lack of (suitable) health information and stigma combine to increase the rates of morbidity and mortality among homeless people. 2. Research The study examined the health status and health behaviours of homeless people in Aberdeen. It sought to find out how well NHS services engage with homeless people in the city. The intention was to explore how patient and public involvement could be developed meaningfully to ensure that the views of homeless people are actively sought, listened to and acted upon. The definition of homelessness used corresponded to that used by the Homelessness Task Force (see Appendix A) and covered the statutory homeless and non statutory homeless (e.g. roofless, houseless, temporarily housed, those living in insecure accommodation etc.).