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The Speech Language and Communication Needs of Rough Sleepers in London

Andrews, L. & Botting, N. ORCID: 0000-0003-1082-9501 (2020). The Speech Language and Communication Needs of Rough Sleepers in London. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 55(6), pp. 917-935. doi: 10.1111/1460-6984.12572


Background: There is very little awareness of the Speech Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) of rough sleepers. The small amount of documentation which does exist involves a wider group of homeless adults (not just rough sleepers), and reports that communication needs are an area of concern.

Aims: We aimed to investigate: 1) the reported prevalence of SLCN amongst UK nationals recorded on CHAIN as sleeping on the streets of London; 2) whether rough sleepers with reported SLCN differ from those without; and 3) what factors best predict patterns of rough sleeping and accommodation stays?

Methods & Procedures: A dataset of 513 participants was provided by the Combined Homeless and Information Network (CHAIN) which contained information relating to all new rough sleepers and people with long term histories of rough sleeping (UK nationals only) recorded by street outreach teams in London
between 1 April 2013 and 30 June 2013. Also included was data about UK nationals provided with support by the Homelessness and Brain Injury Project. The dataset contained information including basic demographics, communication skills, health and social care needs, and institutional background and extended to a five-year period.

Outcomes & Results: 1) SLCN data was often not recorded with data available for only 62% of individuals on the CHAIN databases. However, for those with SLCN data, the prevalence of SLCN was significantly higher than for the general population (17.1%; p<.001). 2) There were no significant differences between those with and without SLCN on additional risk factors, quarters rough sleeping, accommodation stays or staffrecorded
alerts. 3) There was a positive correlation between rough sleeping and additional risk factors for those with SLCN (r=.32, p<.001), and for those without (r=.25, p<.001). Regression analysis indicated that additional risk factors were more predictive than SLCN in explaining the number of quarters rough sleeping
and accommodation stays.

Conclusions & Implications: SLCN are highly prevalent amongst rough sleepers and significantly greater than for the UK general population. SLCN are not clearly related to rough sleeping behaviour, but the presence of additional risk factors is highly significant in this regard. Homelessness organisations should provide training for staff in SLCN in order to promote better recording of SLCN, inclusive communication, and appropriate
support to people who are homeless. Further research is also needed to better understand the communication needs of rough sleepers.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

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