Dr. Cheryl Forchuk is the recipient of the 2020 Innovation Award for her work to prevent discharges from hospital to homelessness. Throughout her career, Dr. Forchuk has been investigating potential best practice approaches to prevent homelessness in our community for a wide range of people, including those with severe mental illness, veterans, families, and youth.
Her recent project, ‘Preventing Hospital Discharge into Homelessness: No Fixed Address Version 2 (NFAv2)’ streamlines housing and income services by bringing them into the hospital, and integrating them into a coordinated system of care.
Research shows that when someone is housed, their use of medical and social services decreases. Safe and adequate housing is required for individuals to recover from illness.
Version one of this program was a great success, providing direct access to a housing advocate and Ontario Works from inpatient hospital psychiatric units in London. The No Fixed Address v2 program provides individual inpatients, at risk of becoming homeless, with housing and financial assistance while in hospital. A collaborative approach which includes the local Canadian Mental Health Association, the Salvation Army Rent Stability Bank, Ontario Works, and the City of London brings community supports to the hospital. This enables patients to recover from their illness and reduces the number who may return to the hospital. Dr. Forchuk’s use of in-depth, individual, quantitative interviews, and qualitative focus groups, allows stakeholders to voice their experiences with the program as well as capture traditional outcomes.
“This innovative program has been so successful in London’s hospitals that the City of London has integrated the NFAv2 service within its municipal housing support programs,” explains Dr. Arlene MacDougall, Lawson Scientist and Dr. Forchuk’s nominator. “It also has the potential to be integrated across the province as the best practice in reducing homelessness in communities. Her efforts have been recognized by multiple funding agencies, and it will soon be the model for the rest of the nation to follow. Dr. Forchuk’s commitment to improve the lives and of those in our community makes her truly deserving of this award.”
“The No Fixed Address research project is the first evaluation anywhere of a strategy that aims to reduce the number of hospital patients being discharged into homelessness,” says Dr. Forchuk. “I’m really proud of our collective efforts. We have been able to help a lot of people, and have also learned a lot throughout the course of this study.”