Study on health of homeless patients in Aberdeen wins award

Academics and health professionals who have been investigating the health of homeless patients in Aberdeen have collected an award for the best research abstract presented at a large NHS Scotland event in Glasgow.

Out of a total of 59 presentations a team of Robert Gordon University (RGU) researchers and NHS Grampian staff won the award for the ‘Person centred care’ category.

The collaborative research involved researchers from RGU, Marywell Homeless Healthcare Centre Aberdeen and Aberdeen City Community Health Partnership.

Principle Investigator Dr Vibhu Paudyal received the award on behalf of the research team which comprised of Professor Derek Stewart, Dr Katie MacLure, Dr Carol Buchanan, Ms Liz Wilson, and Ms Joan MacLeod.

Their research looked at how homeless patients in Aberdeen manage their medications and the barriers they face in retaining and maintaining adherence to their medicines. The team’s presentation was titled: ‘Homeless patients and their medicines: exploring expectations, beliefs and behaviours.’

The study highlighted several challenges homeless people face to keep track of their medication. These included medicines being stolen and the lack of secure storage.

Study participants explained the difficulty and need to store their medicine discretely on their person at all times, including in places such as their socks.

Other challenges were also identified around access to health care services including lack of means to travel to the health care facilities, and other life priorities such as search for shelter preventing attendance at appointments. Perceived health status was also poor amongst the study participants.

Dr Vibhu Paudyal, Lecturer of Pharmacy Practice at RGU, said: “This study highlights the unmet needs and unique challenges to medicines management in the homeless population in Aberdeen.

“We take this award as an inspiration to undertake further research in this area so that emerging health care practice and policy can address the needs of this under-researched population. Greater integration between health and social care is the way forward.”

Their findings has encouraged the research team to undertake further work in this area so that emerging health care practice and policy can address the needs of this unique population.

Joan MacLeod, NHS Grampian's lead pharmacist within the Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership added: "I am absolutely delighted to see this collaborative project between RGU’s School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences and the Marywell Medical Practice being recognised at a national level.

“It is hoped that the on-going, person-centred work in this area will contribute to improved care for this vulnerable group of patients and also strengthen joint working between general practice and community pharmacy."

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney MSP, addressed delegates and Paul Gray, Director-General Health and Social Care and Chief Executive of NHS Scotland, presented the award to Dr Paudyal.

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