Health Workers Conduct Register of Homeless
31 July 2013 at 4:28 pm
Teams of housing and health workers have been on the streets of Melbourne this week to compile a register of the health status of individuals who are sleeping rough.
The national Registry Week event, held in capital cities at different times across Australia, is aimed at moving people who sleep rough into safe, secure and affordable housing and providing health care and support.
Health workers assess factors such as the number of presentations at hospital emergency departments, the person’s age, the presence of chronic disease and how long the person has been homeless.
HomeGround Services, in partnership with the Salvation Army Crisis and Adult Services and the Royal District Nursing Service homelessness program are involved in Registry Week.
HomeGround CEO Dr Heather Holst said Registry Week was an essential part of the work of the homelessness and health sectors as it targeted the most vulnerable people who sleep rough on the streets.
“This is our opportunity to reach people who often don’t seek out help,” she said.
“It allows our workers to make contact with the most vulnerable individuals and offer to help them access housing and health services. “
Holst said teams of workers would be using a ‘vulnerability index’ to identify those people on the streets who were at greatest risk of dying due to complex health conditions.
“It is a sobering thought, but it is great to know that you are going out with something to offer these people,” she said.
“This is not a research project, we are not going out to simply find out how many people are sleeping rough.
“We have accommodation and health options to address this serious problem and that is a good position to be in.”
Holst said providing housing and health services to the most vulnerable rough sleepers provided improvements in health, wellbeing and opportunity.
“Housing someone permanently who has been sleeping rough, and giving them the support they need, costs less than the cycle of hospital admissions, prison and crisis accommodation and support,” she said.