Reducing Fatalities in Shelter: HELP Research, Single Adult Services and Family Services Pilot New Wellness Check Program

This Spring, HELP USA family and single adult shelters began implementing a pilot wellness check program. Social workers use a risk assessment tool, designed by HELP Research, to identify risks that clients in each subpopulation exhibit to poor well-being and then conduct an increased number of wellness checks with them as a way to address any social, physical, emotional, and psychological needs they may have . Scholars have broadly defined wellness as a holistic state of physical, mental, and social well-being in which one achieves an integrated mode of functioning to maximize one’s potential, such as, for example, undertaking self-care and meeting one’s health needs. HELP Research based its risk assessment tools on a literature review that examined the risks that people experiencing homelessness exhibit to poor well-being.

The literature review covers six areas. It defines wellness and well-being; identifies factors, such as serious health conditions, that undermine the well-being of this population; details subgroup dynamics, such as gender inequalities, with respect to these factors; recommends risk assessment tools for each subpopulation based on findings from the literature; summarizes best practices among homeless service providers in promoting wellness; and recommends how to adapt the appropriate model of wellness checks for HELP USA single adult men, single women and families with children in shelters.

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