Community Development, Homelessness

Community Care Teams: A Promising Approach to Chronic Health and Housing Challenges

Partnership for Strong Communities
 

Paige McCooty, 2018 Summer Intern, Partnership for Strong Communities 

In Connecticut alone, emergency departments have treated more than 8,400 patients at least 7 times in 6 months, totaling approximately 58,000 visits.

Why?

The United States’ fragmented health care system, limited definition of health and large presence of homelessness has created significant consequences including poor health outcomes, wasted resources, and overworked providers. Current health care reform efforts have focused on targeting frequent visitors of hospital emergency rooms.

These frequent visitors have disproportionate rates of mental health and/or substance misuse diagnoses, housing instability, and complex medical conditions. Thus, the clients of the various Community Care Teams are experiencing an improvement in their quality of life.

What is a CCT?

A Community Care Team (CCT) is a local multi-disciplinary coordination team comprised of medical professionals, behavior health specialists and housing experts whom identify frequent users of emergency rooms in order to improve the care of their complex social and health needs. Many of the clients referred to CCTs are experiencing homelessness.

Goals:

  • Reduce emergency department visits and inpatient readmissions for people who are experiencing homelessness or are unstably housed
  • Improve care coordination upon discharge from inpatient settings
  • Reduce costs for the medical and healthcare system

In order to explore health equity issues, the demographic data of the populations being served by the CCTs has been analyzed. The fifteen CCTs in Connecticut were contacted through phone calls and an email survey. The phone calls provided a quick way to explain the research and the purpose of providing the data. They also allowed for both quantitative and qualitative data to be shared. As for the email surveys, data was collected however there was a delay in response from the CCT members with this method.

Results

 The analysis focused specifically on the clients of two CCTs, Danbury and Stamford, due to the time frame of the study and the quality of data received. Danbury’s clients have a median age of 47 years with an age range of 20 to 82 years while Stamford’s clients have a median age of 48 years with an age range of 19 to 81 years. As for Danbury’s gender distribution 39.3% of clients are females and 60.7% are males while Stamford has 45.8% female clients and 54.2% male clients. The racial distribution of the clients greatly differed between the two CCTs. The most significant distinction is that 77% of Danbury’s clients are White and 9% are Black while Stamford has 40% White clients and 39% Black clients.

The clients of both teams had almost identical age medians and ranges, further proving that homelessness affects individuals of all ages across various towns. The Danbury clients had a gender distribution greatly favoring males which reflects the distribution of those experiencing homelessness all across our country. The most distinct difference between the CCTs was the racial breakdown. Almost 80% of Danbury’s CCT clients are White while the city of Danbury has a White population of only 54%. On the other hand, almost 40% of Stamford’s CCT clients are Black while the city of Stamford has a Black population of only 15%. These discrepancies between racial distribution of CCTs and the cities they serve call for more research to determine whether there are health equity issues within the clientele of certain teams.

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