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Talking health - How the Dual Diagnosis Team has impacted GMHF

Adam Clayton, Interim Service Manager for Homeless Services at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) tells us about the Dual Diagnosis Team, which provides support to some of GM Housing First’s most vulnerable service users.

People who experience homelessness are often marginalised from society and face barriers

to access services most of us take for granted.

People generally require support in multiple areas of their lives and co-occurring conditions such as substance use and mental health needs (which are often referred to as ‘dual diagnoses’) create additional barriers to accessing support for both housing and health needs.

Dual diagnoses are extremely common amongst those experiencing homelessness. In fact, 94% of people supported in the first three years of the GM Housing First (GMHF) programme reported substance misuse issues, 88% reported mental health issues, and 85% reported both. Our Dual Diagnosis team provides specialist support those who are struggling with dual diagnoses on GMHF.

Our team is made up of four Dual Diagnosis Practitioners who work closely with service users and staff to empower them to better understand, manage and overcome the complex challenges that people with dual diagnoses face, to support them out of homelessness permanently.

Through delivery of a trauma-informed, dual diagnosis model, we are able to work with everyone, regardless of their needs. This is done in partnership with the other Housing First partners to ensure these needs are considered on an individual and comprehensive basis.

The support we offer includes:

  • Training for frontline workers, in areas like Trauma-informed Care and Harm Reduction.

  • Engaging, assessing and providing ongoing support to service users.

  • Encouraging multi-agency working to address individuals’ needs in a more holistic, joined-up way.

  • Encouraging service flexibility, and where necessary, system change.

So far, we have delivered 20 training sessions, and continue to deliver training regularly to all new GMHF starters, as well as ongoing refresher training to GMHF staff.

This sits alongside GMMH Recovery Academy resources and courses, which are available to all homeless sector partners.

Overall, over 412 service users have been supported directly through the Dual Diagnosis service.

One service user said:“My Dual Diagnosis Practitioner, Jade, spoke to me about my physical and mental health needs, and then made sure the proper support was put in place. She liaised with my GP on my behalf, and made sure that they were doing the right tests, treatments and referring me on to the right specialists. I also am in the process of fighting for access rights to have contact with my younger son. Jade is supporting me throughout this process, and is by my side at every Family Court session.”

Working as a partner on the Greater Manchester Housing First programme has been an amazing opportunity to offer a whole system approach, collaboratively, to best meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness.

Throughout the time that Housing First has been delivered within Greater Manchester, we are delighted to have provided support and interventions to hundreds of people with a dual diagnosis, and ultimately help them overcome barriers to allow them to move into safe and sustainable accommodation.


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