The recent evaluation of HammondCare’s purpose-built aged care home for homeless individuals has revealed significant improvements in residents’ well-being and quality of life, while also generating substantial savings for taxpayers. The evaluation, published in BMC Geriatrics, examined the impact of the specialised care provided to 35 residents over a 12-month period following their admission between March 2020 and April 2021.
The evaluation demonstrated that HammondCare Darlinghurst, which opened its doors in 2020, effectively enhanced the lives of its residents with high care needs who were either homeless or at risk of homelessness. Moreover, the facility successfully maintained the residents’ physical functioning. The home, which offers support tailored to older individuals, is unique in NSW and stands out as a model for dedicated services addressing the needs of older homeless people.
During the first year of residency, the government realised savings of approximately $32,000 per resident, as compared to the 12-month period prior to admission, for the 13 residents for whom complete cost data was available. The most significant source of savings was a reduction in in-patient admissions, showcasing the efficacy of the specialised care model implemented at HammondCare Darlinghurst.
Construction of the facility was made possible through contributions from various donors, including the HammondCare Foundation, The Ian Potter Foundation, the City of Sydney, and the Snow Foundation. The site for the facility was provided by St John’s Anglican Church.
Although the researchers, led by Professor Christopher Poulos, acknowledged certain limitations to the study, they concluded that the positive outcomes observed add to the growing body of evidence supporting the need for dedicated services catering to the increasing number of older individuals experiencing homelessness.
Mike Baird, Chief Executive of HammondCare, expressed his satisfaction with the profound impact the Darlinghurst facility has made on the lives of vulnerable residents with complex needs. He praised the commitment of HammondCare staff at Darlinghurst in supporting these individuals and emphasised the necessity for more similar establishments to address the needs of the growing ageing population.
In comparison to younger homeless individuals, older homeless people are more likely to face functional limitations, suffer from chronic health conditions, and experience limited social interactions. The average age of the residents in the study was 76 years, and the majority were referred from hospitals due to high healthcare needs. Over a third of the residents had experienced homelessness at some point, while the remainder were considered at risk of homelessness.
Apart from the evident improvements in well-being and quality of life, the evaluation also revealed clinically significant enhancements in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) scores among residents during the study period. The researchers attributed these positive outcomes to the supportive environment and trauma-informed approach adopted by the aged care home, which effectively countered the compounding influence of the global pandemic.
While the residents’ levels of physical functional independence, frailty, and global cognition remained stable throughout the year of the study, there was some decline observed in cognitive functional ability.
Professor Poulos noted that achieving cost savings while maintaining the quality of life, as measured by quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), indicates the cost-effectiveness of this type of care home specifically targeted at older homeless individuals.
The building itself features private bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. The room design includes a transition space before entering common areas, taking into consideration the possible trauma and mistrust experienced by individuals with a history of homelessness. The staffing model at HammondCare Darlinghurst involves a multi-skilled, carer-led approach, supported by Registered Nurses and other healthcare professionals, fostering a relationship of trust with the residents.
The positive outcomes of the evaluation highlight the success of HammondCare Darlinghurst in improving the lives of homeless older individuals with high care needs.
To access the full evaluation report go to https://rdcu.be/daZBV