Ending homelessness, rebuilding lives

Summer Edition 2023

Championing better care

Matt Bawden, Regional Head for North Region and Physical Health explains how our two CQC registered care homes support clients, and shares the findings of our recent care review.

“People who’ve experienced long term homelessness often have multiple physical and mental health needs, and higher levels of drug and alcohol use. All of these things can prove very challenging for a mainstream care home to support.

“That’s where St Mungo’s registered care homes come in. Our staff are trained in managing challenging behaviour, understanding complex traumas, and working in a psychologically informed way. So rather than evicting people when they show challenging behaviour, we’re able to meet them where they are.

“For example, many of our clients use alcohol problematically. But rather than banning it, which wouldn’t work, we deliver a harm reduction model – supporting clients to reduce their alcohol in a controlled and sustainable way.

“This not only helps improve their physical health, but also reduces the risk of conflict with staff or residents.

“We produce alcohol agreements with clients so they can agree on the amount they will drink when they move into the home. 

Chichester Road had a beautiful garden

“It’s about creating a joint effort rather than telling them what to do. And that helps them to be more open to all the other support that we're able to offer."

“Our clients are often frequent users of primary care services like A&E before they move in, but we often see a reduction in use over time, because they’re getting the support they need. If we excluded them for drinking, they wouldn’t get that support.

“Another benefit that’s quite hard to measure, but is really important to us, is an increase in dignity. If someone has issues with things like personal care or incontinence, living in a hostel is not ideal. We regularly notice an improvement in people’s appearance and self-confidence when they move into one of our care homes.”

Our care review

Image: St Mungo's care home at Hilldrop Road
Our care home at Hilldrop Road

Our care homes are a great example of how the right care, delivered in the right place, can transform a person’s quality of life and support them to leave homelessness behind for good. Sadly, there are very few services like this available.

Last year we decided to carry out a care review, to find out more about the care and support needs of clients across all of St Mungo’s services, and see if there is a need for more specialist care homes.

Our review found that the main challenges to accessing the right care are:

A lack of specialist care homes

Currently, there are simply not enough beds to meet demand.

Long waits for the Care Act assessment

When someone needs care, our staff will refer them to the council for a Care Act assessment. But a large proportion of St Mungo’s managers described long delays in waiting for assessments and decisions, and increasingly high assessment thresholds.

A lack of understanding of complex needs

Many St Mungo’s services found external care teams to be unresponsive and inflexible when working with people with complex needs, such as clients with experience of drug and alcohol use.

Life Changing Care

We are sharing the findings of the review in our report, Life Changing Care: The role, gaps and solutions in providing social care to people experiencing homelessness. It will be shared with policy makers and sector professionals to raise awareness and promote much needed change.

Hear from our clients


“I’ve lived here just over a year. I was sleeping rough for a while, and to come into somewhere warm, it’s real cosy.

“I’ve stayed in some places where you’re really not supported at all, but I feel properly supported here. You get your own room, can have your own independence, but you can also be social. You’ve got a pool table, TV. And we have residents’ meetings where we can bring up any problems. But I don’t have any – I’m really grateful to be here. I would give it 100/100.”


“I’ve lived here for over 10 years now. I was in a more independent place but then I became ill. It’s good – they help you manage your money, you get a regular haircut and shave, and the food is good. They do a big breakfast sometimes, which I enjoy.”

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