Brain injury and homelessness

4th December 2018

People experiencing homelessness are at high risk of brain injury, for example as a result of trauma, alcohol use or health issues. Brain injury is also a factor in the causes of homelessness, as it can change a person’s behaviour and compromise the skills they need to function effectively in daily life.

People with brain injury might display issues such as challenging or impulsive behaviour, memory problems, and poor emotional control. There is a risk that services respond to these behaviours with warnings and evictions.

Leigh Andrews has worked in the homelessness field for over 20 years and has a particular interest in how communication affects health. Leigh is studying Speech and Language Therapy at City, University of London, sits on the Acquired Brain Injury Forum for London, and is the founder of Change Communication. In support of Homeless Link, the national membership charity for organisations working directly with people who become homeless in England, Leigh produced guidance for staff in homelessness which explains how to support people who have, or are suspected to have, experienced brain injury. It includes definition and causes of brain injury, and why people experiencing homelessness might be at risk. There is also information on support and access to specialist services. This guidance aims to help frontline staff and managers to consider what underlying issues might be preventing someone from engaging appropriately, and how the staff team can try different ways of working in order to avoid repeat homelessness.

Download the good practice guidance here: Brain injury and homelessness.

Tool kits have been developed by the Westminster Rough Sleeping Team and the HHCP to provide advice around specific areas.

Access toolkits here: Toolkits