Medical Respite: Best Practice Support
One of Men’s Shelter of Charlotte’s (MSC) lesser known, but highly impactful, best practices is Medical Respite. As a practice to support those experiencing homelessness, medical respite has been around for many years. I was part of a collaboration in Raleigh that brought medical respite to the capital city. When I came to Charlotte in 2008, I brought the practice with me and MSC has refined our approach to medical respite ever since.
Here’s briefly how it works. MSC provides hospitals (within both Carolinas Medical Center and Novant’s systems) guidelines for referring men experiencing homelessness into the medical respite component housed in our Tryon Street Campus shelter. Social workers or other emergency room staff can contact our coordinator, shelter director Pam Neal, and get an immediate response. If the man is experiencing homeless and needs recuperative care, then we admit him into one of our ten medical respite beds. These beds, by the way, remain filled over 90% of the time. Men admitted to medical respite can stay in that bed for up to 14 days to recuperate while also receiving follow up medical care (doctor’s appointment, home healthcare, etc.) and prescribed medicines. At the end of the medical respite stay men can be placed in beds within our two shelters while continuing to work on income and housing plans. However, Pam has been very successful in placing men into more appropriate housing directly from medical respite.
Like many of the best practice approaches to ending homelessness we did not invent medical respite. In fact, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council (www.nhchc.org) provides some great resources and guidance for medical respite providers across the country. At MSC, we take a best practice model and adapt it to the unique needs of the men we serve, while ensuring that it supports one or more legs of our equation: Income+Housing+Support=An End to Homelessness. By staying laser focused on proven strategies that help people meet their own needs and accomplish their own plans, MSC is ending homelessness in our community.