Homeless Healthcare (formerly known as Mobile GP) is a not-for-profit charity set up in 2008 to advance and promote the health of homeless and marginalised people.
Dr Andrew Davies recognised that the most effective way to address the health needs of homeless people was to work collaboratively with social services. He began what we know today as Homeless Healthcare by holding medical clinics in Drop-in Centres which already address some of the needs of homeless people. Dr Davies initially ran two half-day clinics per week, but demand has continued to rise dramatically. In 2014/15, Homeless Healthcare provided 12,922 medical consultations at 11 clinic locations across the metropolitan area. By mid-2015, Homeless Healthcare staff had seen over 4,500 homeless or marginalised patients.
"I reckon it's a bit of a human right that we have people delivering service to our most vulnerable in the community. I don't know of any other service that can do that, probably on the shoestring budget that Homeless Health does it. We don't see government delivering it on the streets and from a - if I can just correlate to policing, the biggest issue is street level service provision. That's what we need. More street level service providers. So, services that Andrew provides and others like it are invaluable and we couldn't do without it." Kim Massam, Major Crime Detective
How we are helping to break the cycle of homelessness
Improved health and wellbeing is essential if there is to be a real chance of a person breaking the cycle of homelessness. Homeless Healthcare recognises that health problems do not occur independently of social problems. We have the dual aim of improving the health and welfare of people while they are homeless, and of providing ongoing healthcare and support to enable people to break the cycle of homelessness.
Access to appropriate healthcare has many barriers for homeless people. Homeless Healthcare aims to provide equity and access to high quality healthcare that meets the unique needs of our patients. Our clinicians have significant experience in delivering primary healthcare services catering specifically for homeless and marginalised people. Our dedicated team of doctors and nurses provide healthcare services with compassion, without judgement, and at no cost to the patient.
Our model of care
The underlying philosophy of Homeless Healthcare is one where the patient is respected regardless of background.
The two biggest barriers for a homeless person seeking healthcare are:
- healthcare isn’t a priority in a subculture pre-occupied with basic survival
- previous negative experiences with healthcare services.
To overcome these barriers it is vitally important that we recognise that a homeless person is exactly that — a person. They just happen to be homeless. Like all people, recognition of our individual needs and desires is important. As is the process of building trust.
Some of the barriers to healthcare access can be overcome by going to locations where homeless people feel comfortable, like to congregate and have access to food and showers.
“They come to us. They found me in the psych wards and all over the place… We had that much of an issue, we had a box of tissues going - anything and everything from my teeth to my eyes to my accommodation to my physical and my spiritual. Just about all the needs.” – HHC Patient
Our goals are to have:
- A network of mobile clinics across the metropolitan area, run by dedicated clinicians with a special interest in working with homeless and marginalised people.
- Sustainable funding to support delivery of GP clinics for Perth’s homeless, and continuation of the ‘Street Health’ pilot project (giving daily access to a registered nurse for people who are sleeping rough).
- A medical recovery centre where homeless people can have their health needs addressed when they do not require the full, expensive services of a hospital, but are not yet well enough for life on the streets.
- A collaborative research and education unit focussed on expanding the international knowledge base of effective interventions to improve the health of homeless people, and providing leading professional development about evidence-based health and social interventions to support homeless people.
- A commitment from Government to provide sustainable funding for health services for homeless people.