Who We Are
Please excuse our mess, the site is currently under construction
The Shelter Health Network is a collaboration of health professionals and social service organizations established in 2005 to reach a high risk populaton of people who do not have stable housing and have complex health problems. The major proponents of this initiative include: Good Shepherd Centres (Family Centre, Good Shepherd Men's shelter, HOMES program, Barrett Center, Notre Dame House), Salvation Army (Primary care clinic, Discharge bed program), Wesley Urban Ministries (H2HP at Wesley and Claremont House), Mission Services (Jamesville outpatient clinic, Discovery House), Wayside House, and CMHA.
Our partners include: Hamilton Health Sciences, St. Joseph's Health Care, the Public Health Outreach Services, McMaster University School of Nursing, the McMaster Michael De Groote School of Medicine Program, the Hospitals-Shelters Working Group, and the OSCAR computer network. The SHN offers three cross-cutting services including 1) primary care services, 2) system co-ordination, protocol development, shared outcomes and communication, 3) education, training and research. Nurses, family physicians, psychiatrists, case managers and social workers work in collaboration to provide health and social services to clients. The project is governed by a Steering Committee comprised of representatives of the proponents and partners (representing the key players in the health system) as listed previously.
Problems with health and problems with housing are linked to each other. People who are homeless experience poorer health and shorter lives, and being homeless creates barriers to accessing health services. Helping people with both their housing and their health at the same time has a better chance of being effective than trying to help with one at a time.
We bring health care and shelter together. Health care happens within transitional housing programs. Case managers, social workers, nurses, family physicians and psychiatrists provide services to clients within shelters and other types of transitional housing. We help people move easily from acute care hospitals or from living on the street to our care in shelters. When people's lives have become more stable, we help them to receive ongoing health care from community family physicians. We strive to make the connection between hospitals and community seamless.
The Shelter Health Network is also committed to teaching nursing students, medical students and other health professionals. Interdisciplinary (or interprofessional) education happens when two or more professions learn from and about each other to improve the quality of care. The complex health needs of people who are homeless require different types of skills from different types of service providers. Our close link with McMaster University, its teachers and its researchers means that our network can help others in the world to understand the problems of health and homelessness.