Often it can be helpful to signpost the patient to local community services which may be of assistance to them. Each ED should have a pack with this information readily available (1). In addition, the Homeless Link website is useful for sourcing up-to-date information on local services (18). Types of services available include (18):

  • Specialist homeless primary care services
  • Housing services
  • Homeless day centres, night shelters and soup kitchens
  • Homeless and mental health charities
  • Mental health crisis supports
  • Sexual health services

Learning bite

There can be many reasons for difficult behaviour in the ED but often being patient and empathetic can defuse the situation.

When discharging homeless patients, ensure they have the means to attend for follow up, obtain medication etc. and if not, reconsider the plan and whether or not the patient can be safely discharged.