Homeless Service Improves Health - Report
13 August 2013 at 10:43 am
A Melbourne service supporting chronically homeless people into permanent housing has significantly improved serious health problems faced by many of the participants, according to a new report.
The report says the Melbourne Street to Home (MS2H) service is delivering promising outcomes but warns that more needs to be done in finding housing options for homeless people in inner city Melbourne.
The Evaluation of the Melbourne Street to Home program: 12 month outcomes report by RMIT University academics Professor Chris Chamberlain and Dr Guy Johnson shows the program is making significant progress in resolving long-term homelessness.
HomeGround CEO Dr Heather Holst said the aim of MS2H, a collaborative program with the Salvation Army and Royal District Nursing Service, was to support chronically homeless people into permanent housing and assist them to address serious health problems.
The report found that 77% of participants were in good quality housing 12 months after joining the program, 63% of participants said their general health was better than a year ago and the number who reported moderate to extreme bodily pain decreased from 54% to 23%.
As well the report found that there was a 50% reduction in the number of times participants used a hospital emergency room.
“The report confirms that this program is helping some of the most vulnerable people who are chronically homeless and in poor health. Most of the people we work with have been homeless for a number of years and have significant physical and/or mental health issues,” she said.
Report co-author Professor Chris Chamberlain said Melbourne Street to Home is “an excellent program that is making a real difference to people who have experienced chronic homelessness”.
Dr Holst said the report highlights the benefits of the program on participants overall quality of life.
“This report provides clear evidence of many positive changes in the lives of the people who have been in the program for the past 12 months,” she said.
“The data in the report demonstrates that people who have been sleeping rough for long periods of time can achieve a much improved quality of life when they gain access to appropriate accommodation and consistent support.
“Nonetheless, the Street to Home program still faces some challenges and finding suitable housing for the clients is the most pressing problem.”
“Housing options in the inner city are limited and the failure to integrate the provision of housing into the model is a major policy oversight. It is desirable that future policy discussions take into account the need for more housing to support ‘housing first’ initiatives such as Street to Home,” the researchers concluded.
“Despite this limitation, the early signs are that Street to Home is making significant progress in resolving long-term homelessness.”
Copies of the evaluation report available on request: firstname.lastname@example.org