Homelessness places increasing demand on Perth’s Emergency Services in that homeless people are 6 times more likely to present at emergency departments, their hospital stay is 3 times longer than the general population and they are 4 times more likely to return.
In 2016 we commenced an in-reach program at Royal Perth Hospital for those patients who present at the Emergency Department and are identified as homeless or at risk of homelessness. Homeless Healthcare doctors and nurses then attend to these patients, provide care and help to link them with other support services. Since implementation we have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of patients presenting to the ED, and 54% of Homeless Team patients had fewer ED presentations in the year following first contact with the team. There has also been a significant decrease in the number of inpatient admissions and average number of days spent as an inpatient. In all, these changes are equivalent to an aggregate cost saving of $4.6 million and a cost saving of $7302 per person.
Through the clinics we run at Drop-In Centres, Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Centres, Youth Clinics and Transitional Housing, we have managed to prevent almost 2,500 patient visits to Emergency Departments in the last year alone. Now with our in-reach service at RPH we hope to expedite the hospital visits of homeless people and aid their transition back into permanent housing.