Background: We explored health care services in three supportive housing sites in Kelowna, British Columbia, to identify tenants’ health needs and determine whether their needs were perceived as being met, and, if their needs were perceived as not being met, which health areas were being underserved.
Methods: We invited all tenants and staff at the supportive housing sites to provide information on their health needs and related support. In-depth interviews were conducted between 1 August and 2 September 2020, including both closed-ended and open-ended questions.
Results: In total, 42 tenants (38%) and 30 staff members (75%) were interviewed. Seventy-two percent of tenants interviewed had unmet health needs; those with developmental disabilities experienced the highest percentage of unmet needs. Long-term conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and liver disease were also associated with unmet needs. Tenants were often unaware of available health care services or were unwilling or unable to access them. Both tenants and staff emphasized that stigma and discrimination within health services are a barrier to receiving care. Existing health services were also seen as ill-equipped to deal with concurrent conditions, such as mental health issues, substance use, and/or physical disability.
Conclusions: We recommend that further research be conducted on the needs of other populations in supportive housing across BC and that additional funding be provided to create a wide range of housing options to address the diverse health, social, and other needs of tenants.
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