Meeting the health needs of
the homeless

Tierney House at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney is supported by SVHA’s Inclusive Health Program which has been developed to facilitate significant improvement in the services we provide to those most in need.

Tierney House provides accommodation and health care to chronically homeless people as they convalesce from illness or receive treatment for chronic health conditions. It’s an antidote to a significant problem inner city hospitals face across Australia: vulnerable rough sleepers, without any ongoing health care co-ordination, presenting at hospital emergency departments (ED) for non-emergency care: sometimes several times in the space of a few days or weeks.

One of our key Inclusive Health projects involved funding a comprehensive evaluation of the cost benefits of homeless people accessing Tierney House. It showed that services including the provision of advocacy, referral, co-ordination and post-discharge follow up for these vulnerable individuals results in an initial increase in hospital presentations that is then followed by a gradual decline and a greater reliance on community-based services.

In addition to its health advantages, it was found that the Tierney House program delivers a net cost-benefit to New South Wales taxpayers of $8,276 per person over two years by reducing ED and other hospital presentations and admissions.

What makes these achievements even more significant is that these people are some of the most vulnerable members of our community, who traditionally have much higher rates of chronic illness.