14 February 2023

Today sees the launch of an evaluation report** from the NIHR Policy Research Unit at Kings College London on Access to Employment in NHS Health Care Support Worker Roles for People with Lived Experience of Homelessness Programme.

The report highlights the success of the Access to Employment programme, a joint project designed and delivered by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), Groundswell, NHS England and Pathway that supports individuals with lived experience of homelessness to successfully apply for roles as healthcare support workers.

The programme was piloted in five NHS Trusts* between 2021- 2022 and on each occasion was tailored to meet local needs of the Trust. The main programme elements included engaging with and preparing Trusts to recruit, linking Trusts with local Voluntary & Community Sector organisations (VCS) to identify potential recruits and running a bespoke pre-employment training programme. New recruits and Trusts also received specialist support with applications, recruitment and during induction.

The successful programme has resulted in:

  • Ten participants with experience of homelessness successfully being employed as Healthcare Support Workers and many others now engaged with positive outcomes such as volunteering within their host Trusts
  • Following the participation of trusts in their regions NHS England (North East and Yorkshire) are working to establish a trauma-informed Asset Based Community Development sharing hub to support hyperlocal recruitment methods for those with lived experience of homelessness, which can be scaled and spread across the two regions
  • The possibility of further roll out of the programme in other regions.
  • Best Diversity & Inclusion Employer Award for Pennine Healthcare at 2022 Nursing Times Awards

The evaluation findings are being used to develop a toolkit for Trusts who are looking to diversify their workforce to include people with lived experience of homelessness. The toolkit is expected to be launched in the spring.


Kiran Kenth, Director of Programmes at RSPH said:

“This was a rewarding project for our team to be involved with and we welcome the evaluation report released today, especially the call for NHSE to work with partners and establish a working group that will build on the experience and learning that we had.

“The work here is one step towards challenging the inequalities in our society and supporting people who have been homeless into employment in health and social care, where we know there are large numbers of vacancies.

“The RSPH looks forward to working with partners to roll out the programme further with even more success.”


Alex Bax, Chief Executive of Pathway said:

“We’re delighted with the success of the Health Care Support Worker programme. For recruits, getting a job as an NHS Health Care Support Worker has the potential to be life changing and we’ll continue to do all we can to support them.

“The findings of the report illustrate what can be achieved when NHS employers take a more flexible approach, and some tailored support is put in place for people with lived experience of homelessness. It also hints at how Care Workers own life experiences can themselves contribute to better care quality in the NHS.

“We’re proud to have been part of this ground-breaking project. I look forward to seeing the continued impact it will have on the lives of those experiencing homelessness.”


Further Information

About RSPH: Royal Society for Public Health is an independent health education and campaigning charity, committed to improving and protecting the public’s health and wellbeing. We are the world’s longest-established public health body with over 5000 members who are committed to supporting the public’s health. Our activities include providing qualifications, e-learning, accreditation and programmes. We also campaign on a wide range of issues to support better health and wellbeing for the public.

About Pathway: Pathway is the UK’s leading homeless healthcare charity. We work with the NHS and other partners to create improved models of care for homeless people and excluded groups. So far, the Pathway Partnership Programme has helped 11 hospitals in England to create teams of doctors, nurses, social care professionals and peer supporters who support some 3,500 homeless patients every year.


*Pennine Care (PC) NHS Foundation Trust (Northwest); Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear (CNTW) NHS Foundation Trust (Northeast); Black Country Healthcare (BCH) NHS Foundation Trust (Midlands); East and North Hertfordshire (ENH) NHS Trust (East of England); and Portsmouth Hospitals University (PHU) NHS Trust (Southeast).