QLD Homelessness Program Saves Healthcare Millions
22 May 2014 at 10:34 am
An analysis of an innovative homelessness program in Queensland, which integrates nursing services into its homeless outreach teams, has shown multi-million dollar savings to the State’s public health system.
The analysis found that by spending $503,000 a year to address the health and housing needs of Brisbane’s homeless people, the initiative has saved the Queensland Public Health System almost $7 million.
The Brisbane-based Homeless to Home Healthcare After Hours Service run by Not for Profit Micah Projects in conjunction with local medical services, integrates nurses with homeless outreach teams to provide health-care to homeless and vulnerably housed individuals and families.
The analysis report – An Economic Evaluation of the Homeless to Home Healthcare After Hours Service – is by Professor Luke Connelly who has found overwhelming evidence that the cost of addressing the health and housing needs of the homeless is far, far lower than the financial cost of doing nothing.
“It (the Program) integrates nurses with a community-based assertive outreach team called the Street to Home service in order to enable both housing and healthcare responses to be provided in a coordinated manner,” Prof Connelly said.
“Services are provided to individuals in a continuum of care from the point of working with people who live and receive services on the street, to ongoing care through home visits when a person is housed.
“The Homeless to Home Healthcare After-Hours Service was designed to meet a gap in the healthcare market, providing front-line service delivery to homeless people sleeping rough and home visits to people in temporary accommodation or people who are housed, but have experienced chronic homelessness (i.e.homelessness of a period of six months or more) across the Brisbane metropolitan area,” he said in the Report.
The report’s key findings show that expensive hospital usage declined substantially among participants during the evaluated period:
• Inpatient hospital admissions decreased 37 per cent;
• Visits to the Emergency Department (ED) decreased by 24 per cent.
Hospital costs for participants dropped dramatically during the evaluated period:
• Inpatient costs dropped by 39 per cent, and ED costs dropped by 25 per cent;
• After including the cost of administering Homeless to Home Healthcare After-Hours Nursing Service (~$503,000 per annum), combined inpatient and ED costs dropped by about 30 per cent;
• In this study of 1369 individuals, net health system saving alone was estimated between $6.45 million and $6.90 million per annum due to these reductions.
Health-related quality of life improved among participants during the evaluated period:
• By helping people address quality of life inhibitors like anxiety and improperly managed chronic disease, Homeless to Home Healthcare measurably improved quality of life.
The Report found that more than 225 people have moved from homelessness to permanent housing since the model began operating at the beginning of April 2012, and 110 of those have drawn on the essential healthcare services provided by the Homeless to Home Healthcare Nurses.
“Cutting services is not the only way to save money,” Karyn Walsh, coordinator of Micah Projects, said.
“By proactively addressing the housing and health needs of people experiencing homelessness, and by working collaboratively with other local agencies, we’ve demonstrated a cost benefit to the Queensland Public Health System of somewhere between $6.45 and $6.90 million over the evaluation period.
“We’re concerned that the most vulnerable people in our community will be the first to suffer under the new Budget reality.
“By virtually every measure, however, this report shows we can continue to deliver effective services while realizing substantial cost benefits.
“The rationale behind Homeless to Home Healthcare is simple: by combining mobile healthcare with assertive homeless street outreach, teams can make it easier for homeless people to get the care they need while simultaneously helping them to escape the streets permanently.”
Download the full Report, here.
Download the Key Findings, here.