Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 97, Issue 5, pp 379–383 | Cite as

Shelter-based Convalescence for Homeless Adults

  • Tiina PodymowEmail author
  • Jeff Turnbull
  • Vela Tadic
  • Wendy Muckle



Homelessness is associated with increased hospital costs and length of stay, and medical or surgical conditions are typically complicated by secondary diagnoses of substance abuse or mental illness. Convalescence care to provide timely treatment has not been analyzed. This is a retrospective study of diagnoses and utility of shelter-based convalescence in a cohort of homeless subjects.


A 20-bed shelter-based unit providing up to 3 months stay post hospital discharge, or for treatment of addictions or for those too ill to remain in the general shelter was studied. Charting was by the use of an electronic health record developed for the project. Demographics, reason for admission and outcomes are retrospectively described.


140 men had 181 admissions from July 2000–April 2003; 23.8% were post hospital discharge, 57.4% were from the general shelter. Average length of stay was 40 days. 83.4% were treated for a medical or surgical condition, 83.6% for psychiatric disease and 29.8% for addictions. Medication adherence was >80% in the majority. During admission, 20% obtained a new health card, 43.6% a new drug card, 89.3% received transportation to appointments, 60% applied for housing and 24.3% obtained housing.


A shelter-based convalescence unit can provide health care to homeless persons, treat medical and mental illness, ensure adherence to treatment regimes, decrease substance abuse and assist with housing.

MeSH terms

Homeless persons convalescence patient non-adherence mental health health services research drug addiction alcoholism 



L’itinérance est associée à des frais d’hospitalisation plus élevés et à une durée d’hospitalisation plus longue, et les troubles médicaux et chirurgicaux sont en général plus compliqués en présence d’un diagnostic secondaire de toxicomanie ou de maladie mentale. Les soins à offrir pendant la convalescence pour traiter ces problèmes en temps utile n’ont pas été analysés. Notre étude rétrospective, fondée sur une cohorte de sans-abri, porte sur les diagnostics des sujets hospitalisés et sur l’utilité d’une convalescence en maison d’hébergement.


Nous avons étudié une maison de 20 lits pouvant héberger pendant trois mois des sansabri sortant de l’hôpital, recevant un traitement en toxicomanie ou trop malades pour séjourner dans un centre d’hébergement ordinaire. La représentation graphique des données a été réalisée à partir d’un dossier médical informatisé mis au point pour le projet. Le profil démographique des sujets, la raison de leur hébergement et son résultat sont décrits rétrospectivement.


Cent quarante hommes ont séjourné 181 fois en maison d’hébergement entre juillet 2000 et avril 2003. De ces hommes, 23,8 % sortaient de l’hôpital et 57,4 % venaient d’un centre d’hébergement ordinaire. Ils ont passé en moyenne 40 jours dans la maison d’hébergement. De ces personnes, 83,4 % ont été traitées pour un trouble médical ou chirurgical, 83,6 % pour une maladie psychiatrique, et 29,8 % pour une toxicomanie. L’observance médicamenteuse a été supérieure à 80 % dans la majorité des cas. Pendant leur séjour, 20 % ont obtenu une nouvelle carte-santé, 43,6 % une nouvelle carte d’assurance-médicaments, 89,3 % ont été transportés à leurs rendez-vous, 60 % ont fait une demande de logement, et 24,3 % ont obtenu un logement.


Une maison d’hébergement pour les sans-abri en convalescence peut fournir des soins de santé, traiter les troubles médicaux et les maladies mentales, favoriser l’assiduité aux traitements, réduire la toxicomanie et aider ces personnes à trouver un logement.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tiina Podymow
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jeff Turnbull
    • 3
    • 2
  • Vela Tadic
    • 3
  • Wendy Muckle
    • 3
  1. 1.Ottawa Inner City Health ProjectUniversity of OttawaCanada
  2. 2.The Ottawa HospitalOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Ottawa Inner City Health ProjectUniversity of OttawaCanada

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