Guide to resettling older residents from hostels

Work done by the Coalition on Older Homelessness, a project working to improve services for older homeless people at Homeless Link has illustrated that there are a significant number of older people in hostels, some of whom have needs that go beyond housing related support and who need long term care and support. Others have been there for many years and become institutionalised, have not learnt independent living skills and are frightened of moving into the community. Resettling older people who have lived in a hostel for many years requires a distinct approach and a specific set of skills and knowledge. This guide outlines some of the approaches that have been found to work with this population and highlights the issues that may come up. Reasons for older people experiencing long stays in hostels. • There is a lack of appropriate places for older people with longer term care needs and a history of homelessness to move to, especially if they are alcohol dependent or have mental health problems. • Prior to Supporting People there was a not a strong culture of hostels being temporary or places of transition. • Supporting People places the emphasis on a linear model, moving from dependence to independent living, something that is not appropriate for some older people whose level of dependence is likely to increase. • Older people have been unassertive about moving on and in some cases very resistant to the idea. • It is difficult to engage Social Services and health in the needs of this population despite their complex health, psychological and social problems. The situation is changing. Supporting People are requiring evidence of resettlement work across the hostel population. Hostels are increasingly becoming places of transition; places that address substance misuse, encourage independent living and open up employment and training opportunities. There is pressure to move on the older population. Hostels are not the best places to provide the level of care and support that some of this group can require.

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