Pharmacist outreach for homeless people

Richard LowrieArticle by Richard Lowrie, Lead Pharmacist Research and Development, Clinical Pharmacist, Homeless Health Service, Pharmacy and Prescribing Support Unit, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

As pharmacists we have a unique, generalist skill set and to access our care, patients do not normally need to go through a gatekeeper or require an appointment. This suits patients who are homeless, who tend to have physical and mental ill health and addictions, and who tend not to access preventative care. Medicines for treatable long term conditions are underprescribed in people who are homeless; presentations to the GP are often delayed and hospital appointments are missed and emergency care used frequently. In response, in Glasgow, pharmacist independent prescribers are helping the existing multidisciplinary homeless health care team. We are trying to tailor our anticipatory care proportionate to need, in a fiscal climate where health inequalities and homelessness is increasing.

Working in hostels and on the street, alongside third sector organisations e.g. Simon Community Scotland,  pharmacists in Glasgow are offering a new, low threshold pharmacy service model to engage, offer a full health and medicines check, treat or refer. Patients are engaged in the street, in homeless accommodation e.g. hostels, in voluntary services venues or in the homeless health service. Health checks and medication reviews take place in each of these locations. Working within the governance of the Homeless Health Service and the established boundaries of specialist teams, the pharmacists aim to consult with patients weekly or fortnightly, until definite end points are reached. Process level evaluation to date suggests the service is feasible and improving prescribing and referral.

For more information on the service, you can read this article on the Pharmaceutical Journal’s website.

For detail of the service including evaluation, you can read more in this PDF document.

Also available: a description of the patient population in Glasgow.

If you are interested in setting up a similar service in your area contact:

Dr Richard Lowrie

Lead Pharmacist Research and Development, Clinical Pharmacist, Homeless Health Service

Pharmacy and Prescribing Support Unit, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

0141 232 1731

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