Table 2

The adapted ‘HEADSS’ tool for poverty

QuestionsRed flags and cues for poverty
Home: Who lives at home with you? What is your house like?Chronic physical or mental health problems, >3 young children, single parent.
Housing concerns: pests, leaks, mould, cold, overcrowding.
Do you work? What is your job?
How is your child doing at school?
  • Unemployment/Low income, asylum seekers, travellers.

  • Developmental delay, poor school attainment, poor attendance.

Activities: Do you have any hobbies? Have you been on holiday in the last year?
  • Lack of disposable income for hobbies, holidays or transport.

  • Social isolation.

Diet: What did you eat yesterday?
In the last year, have you worried that your food would run out before you got money to buy more?
  • Lack of (healthy) food, unable to afford fresh fruit and vegetables.

  • Parents missing meals to feed children.

  • Free school meals.

  • Foodbank use.

Have you ever had a social worker? Has anyone ever hurt or threatened you?
  • Reasons for social worker could give insight into current and previous vulnerabilities. Consider what support they already have? Are they receiving benefits?

  • Physical, emotional, sexual abuse or neglect warrants further investigation and referral as per local pathways.