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Homeless seniors given a helping hand

An aged care providers initiative to provide accommodation and health services to older people at risk of or experiencing homelessness has been awarded $2.5 million over five years by philanthropic group The Ian Potter Foundation.

The funding announcement for HammondCare’s $20 million home for older people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness comes just days after a new report was released by the Australian Institute of Health that indicates an increase in the number of older people accessing specialist homelessness services.

The report, Specialist Homelessness Services 2016-17, indicated the numbers of older people accessing these services as increased by over a third since 2012-13 to 23,600 clients, highlighting what HammondCare Chief Executive Dr Stephen Judd says the “significant need for services and accommodation for older people who are homeless, and particularly those who are at risk of homelessness.

“The report shows the number of older homeless people accessing specialist homelessness services is growing rapidly, with an increase of 9 percent in the past year,” he says.

The report lists the main reasons for older people seeking assistance is a housing crisis (22 percent), domestic and family violence (19 percent), and financial difficulties (17 percent).

Dr Judd welcomes The Ian Potter Foundation funding and says the figures in the report confirm the growing need around the nation for long term housing for older people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, highlighting the need for HammondCare’s 42 bedroom home in Sydney.

“This is very exciting for the Darlinghurst project and I thank The Ian Potter Foundation for its generous support and commitment to the aged homeless in Sydney,” he says.

The Ian Potter Foundation Chair Charles Goode says the foundation is delighted to support such an “innovative and unique model”.

“The Foundation supports and promotes projects that are innovative and facilitate social change,” he says.

“We are hopeful that HammondCare Darlinghurst facility will leverage future investment from the New South Wales state government into similar projects that will help to restore dignity to older people who are homeless and who have complex health needs.”

The facility will provide long term residential aged care accommodation in private rooms for 42 men and women, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the area, incorporating specialist services for people with high care needs.

Though construction of the facility is already underway with completion expected for early 2019, Lead for HammondCare’s capital campaign Louise Burton says they are still seeking additional funding for the initiative beyond what has been contributed by The Ian Potter Foundation and the City of Sydney.

“We are still seeking funds and supporters for this very important initiative,” she explains.

“Homelessness for older people in inner Sydney remains a significant issue and this project will provide a much needed service for people in need, and learnings from it will be transferable to other similar projects in the future.”

Fellow aged care provider IRT Group are also working to combat and address homelessness among older people in the Illawarra region of NSW through their IRT Foundation.

An IRT Foundation spokesperson says their Assistance with Care and Housing (ACH) program, supported by Department of Health funding, allows a dedicate ACH Coordinator to assist disadvantaged older people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, with short term care needs; also linking them to appropriate and secure housing that meets their needs.

“We also link them to services they may need to live optimally in their new home and community,” the spokesperson says.

“We want to help vulnerable older people regain their independence and control so they can age well and be recognised as a valuable contributor to society.”

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