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Housing, income play important roles in homeless veteran care

Incorporating social support services and social determinants of health such as housing, income, and family supports into a clinical care model for homeless veterans can be effective in delivering comprehensive care, according to a report from The National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans.

Researchers conducted a study of 33 Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities with so-called “homeless medical homes” and patient-aligned care teams that served more than 14,000 patients. They found that more than 96 percent of VHA patients enrolled in Homeless Patient Aligned Care Team (H-PACT) programs – a homeless medical home initiative – were also receiving VHA homeless services.

According to the study, patients enrolled in the H-PACT program showed a 19 percent reduction in emergency department use and a nearly 35 percent reduction in hospitalizations. Substantial reductions in acute care use in the 6 months after enrollment in the H-PACT program were also seen.

“Integrating social services and supports and housing resources and assistance into the clinical model provides a holistic approach to patient care and addresses underlying causes for much of acute care use,” the researchers suggest.

Article: Tailoring Care to Vulnerable Populations by Incorporating Social Determinants of Health: the Veterans Health Administration’s “Homeless Patient Aligned Care Team” Program, Thomas P. O’Toole, MD, et al., Preventing Chronic Disease, published 31 March 2016.