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To lower the cost of hospitalizing B.C.’s homeless and mentally ill, housing needs to be a priority: SFU study

Hospital bed
. David Sacks/The Image Bank

Hospitalization of the homeless and mentally ill is costing the B.C. health care system a bundle.

A study led by Simon Fraser University researchers shows that each person fitting those descriptions who’s admitted to hospital costs on average $60,000 per year.

The study looked at data from 433 British Columbians who were homeless or mentally ill spanning a five-year period.

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Researchers found more than half of the patients were re-admitted to the hospital within a year.

The results, they say, indicate follow-up care after someone is discharged from hospital helps to reduce re-hospitalization — but having a home to return to is more helpful long-term.

“While continuity of care has been shown to be a valuable and effective mechanism for promoting recovery in the general population, for those without adequate and stable housing, the same benefits may not be realized,” the study concludes.

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The researchers findings say there’s a “compelling need to address housing as an integral component of hospital discharge planning.”

“Collaborative solutions spanning health, housing, and social welfare sectors are strongly indicated to prevent rehospitalization and to meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness and mental illness.”