Royal Trinity Hospice welcomed over thirty professionals from across the voluntary, health and social care sectors yesterday at an event aimed at improving the support for homeless people approaching the end of their lives.

The event was organised by a team of doctors, nurses and social workers from Royal Trinity Hospice who were concerned about the lack of homeless people accessing hospice services. There were featured speakers from Royal Trinity Hospice, Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, St Mungo’s Broadway, University College London and Doctor Hickey GP Surgery. In total, over 15 organisations were represented at the event.

The average age of death for a homeless person is estimated to be around 47 (43 for women), 30 years younger than the general population. Homeless people face a number of health inequalities, including physical and mental health issues, as well as substance misuse problems, which are exacerbated by limited access to appropriate health services and limited integration between services. The palliative care needs of this population are not fully known, but it is evident that many could be approaching the end of life and would benefit from palliative care.

Dr Barbara Sheehy-Skeffington, Palliative Care Consultant at Trinity, said, “Homeless people are amongst the most vulnerable in our society and therefore need extra, not less, support than others when at the end of their lives. This event highlights that we all need to do more to reach out to those that have needs but don't come knocking on our door.”

Royal Trinity Hospice supports anyone aged over 18 with a progressive, life-limiting illness living within central and southwest London. Trinity supports people at the hospice and wherever they call home. Trinity welcomes referrals for homeless people, including rough sleepers and those in temporary accommodation including hostels.

If you would like to find out more about how Trinity supports homeless people or to be involved in future partnership work around homelessness and end of life care, please email Dr Sheehy-Skeffington.