issues and experts

Hospital re-admissions by B.C.’s homeless, mentally ill show need for better support plan—SFU study

June 19, 2018

A study led by SFU’s Somers Research Group reveals that timely outpatient follow-up after each hospital discharge doesn’t help reduce the risk of subsequent re-hospitalization among people experiencing homelessness and mental illness. Instead, each patient cost taxpayers on average $60,000 year over year, with hospital admissions accounting for much of the total.

The study, published by Health Services Research, analyzed data from 433 British Columbians who were homeless and mentally ill spanning a five-year period. The researchers found that more than half of the patients, 53 per cent, were readmitted to the hospital within one year. The results indicate that hospital staff need access to appropriate housing so that it can be included in discharge planning for this population.

“Follow-up care after someone is discharged from the hospital only helps reduce re-hospitalization if the patient is housed or is working,” says Somers. “If someone is homeless no amount of medical care will compensate for the fact that they are homeless. Taxpayers can invest in support programs like consumption sites or street outreach nurses, but it won’t put a dent in reducing the number of re-hospitalization visits.”

Julian M Somers, Health Sciences, 778.782.5049,
Justin Wong, University Communications, 778.782.3035/778.782.5151,