4 tips on caring for homeless patients

Keep consults under 30 minutes and be aware of trauma

Patients who are homeless are more likely to be couch surfing or in a boarding house than sleeping rough, so it’s not always apparent who may be in the midst of a housing crisis.

Those on the streets make up just 7% of Australia’s homeless population, with others staying in boarding houses, crisis accommodation, overcrowded homes and couch surfing, says a Medical Journal of Australia report.

Their health needs are often complex, yet they’re typically disengaged from the health system, posing challenges to the health professionals caring for them, write authors Dr Andrew Davies, founder and medical director of Homeless Healthcare, and Associate Professor Lisa Wood, of the University of WA.

Their review details the barriers homeless people face in accessing healthcare.

Here are some of their tips for GPs on how to help provide effective healthcare for patients who may be homeless: