Posts By / baileyr

Systematic Review: Exploring use of mobile health technology for people who are homeless

Dr Heaslip, Dr Green, Stephen Richer (Nursing Science) and Dr Huseyin Dogan (SciTech) with Dr Simkhada (Visiting Faculty) have recently published a paper Use of Technology to Promote Health and Wellbeing of People Who Are Homeless: A Systematic Review examining current published literature around the subjects of homelessness, mobile technology usage and its impact on health.

 

The review noted that literature indicated that whilst a large percentage of people who are homeless owned a mobile phone or smart phone (around 80%). There were many barriers to the use of mobile technology when you are homeless and these include: physical damage to phones, theft, inability to charge phones, lack of data and the limited availability of Wi-Fi connections. The health impacts of mobile usage are largely associated with ‘social connectedness’. This not only included staying in touch with family and friends but also maintaining a connection to popular culture, social media, news, music and films. Current research indicated that this sense of social connection was considered of high importance by individuals who are homeless. As well as a social connection, people who are homeless found technology as having other potential health benefits, such as signposting to available support,  reminders for appointments, prompts for taking medication, health information and online health advice.

Going forward, we are currently analysing data from an extensive 100 participant, 29 item questionnaire that has been carried out with people who are homeless locally as well as analysing  qualitative data from focus groups and one to one interview (n=16 participants). This arm of our research aims to assess the availability, accessibility and utility of services for people who are homeless in the local area as well as further exploring the opportunities and challenges in utilising  mobile phones to access health and social care services. Results will be published in due course and detailed in our next blog.

Can technology help to address the shocking health statistics of our homeless population?

Bournemouth University is investigating potential technological solutions to assist those sleeping rough to access healthcare services and self-manage complex healthcare needs

Homelessness in the UK is on the increase (Open Government 2018). Health outcomes for those that are homeless are far poorer than of the general population with an mean age of death of 45 years (men) and 43 years (women) compared to 76 ( men) and 81 years (women) for those living in homes (Office for National Statistics 2019). The South West region had the third highest number of rough sleepers in 2018 (Homeless link 2017) and this project will take place in Bournemouth and the surrounding area.

Using technology to access healthcare is nothing new; accessing virtual consultations with your GP or using one of the wide range of apps to access information and advice on is increasingly common, particularly during the current pandemic. However, this does require access to appropriate technology and internet along with the knowledge of how to use it.

Although there is a growing use of technologies amongst homeless people (McInnes et al 2015) to connect with their peers, there is no current research exploring the role of technology in assisting people who sleep rough in locating and accessing appropriate local services.

In partnership with colleagues from the Providence surgery, Dorset Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, the Big Issue and Streetwise; Staff at Bournemouth University are conducting a research project with the aim of developing a freely available app enabling navigation and access to resources to self-manage complex health and social care needs.

The Research Team

Dr Vanessa Heaslip
Vanessa is an Associate Professor in the Department of Nursing Science at Bournemouth University and is the Principle Investigator for this project. Her research interests are in the field of vulnerability and vulnerable groups in society whose voices are not traditionally heard in the academic and professional discourse.

Dr Sue Green
A Registered Nurse with experience in acute and continuing care environments, Sue has been at the forefront of the development of clinical academic careers for nurses. Sue’s research programme focuses on aspects of clinical nutrition. She has a long standing interest in the process of nutritional screening and its effect on care.

Dr Huseyin Dogan
A Principal Lecturer in Computing at Bournemouth University (BU). Dr Dogan’s research focuses on Human Factors, Assistive Technology, Digital Health and Systems Engineering. He is the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Human Computer Interaction (HCI) research group.

Dr Bibha Simkhada
Bibha works at Huddersfield University in the School of Health and Human Sciences. Her research interest includes Technology in Healthcare, Ageing research mainly in Dementia, Health and Wellbeing of BAME population and women’s health. She has methodological expertise on narrative and systematic review and qualitative research.

Stephen Richer
Stephen is a part time PhD student and working part time as the project research assistant. His background is in Mental Health Nursing and he has worked in numerous roles within the NHS and for various mental health charities.

Rachel Bailey
Rachel is a Research Administrator at Bournemouth University. She also works as a Youth Advisor for a local charity and previously worked in FE delivering Careers Advice.

As the research project progresses, this blog will be updated on our methods, progress and results.

We are keen to hear from any local organisations working with the homeless that could assist with research. Please contact Stephen Richer sricher@bournemouth.ac.uk