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Leaders in older people’s homelessness

Since our beginning more than 90 years ago, we’ve been at the forefront of innovative approaches for providing homes and support to those who need them most.

Leaders in older people’s homelessness

Since our beginning more than 90 years ago, we’ve been at the forefront of innovative approaches for providing homes and support to those who need them most.

Research and experience support what residents tell us

From homes for destitute families in the Great Depression and cottages for aged ‘battlers’ in the 1950s, our Darlinghurst care home for older people experiencing or at risk of homelessness is now at the forefront of our homelessness services.

Darlinghurst residents self-report a significant improvement in their health, and this is backed by independent research¹ showing reduced hospital admissions and clinically significant improvements in health-related quality of life and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

¹ O’Connor et al., 'An Australian aged care home for people subject to homelessness: health, wellbeing and cost–benefit', BMC Geriatrics (2023) 23:253 

Relationship-based, trauma-informed

Our relationship-based philosophy of care includes tailoring care to the unique story of each person, getting to know them and what living their best day looks like. As trauma is common among those who have experienced homelessness, this also informs our evidenced-based approach to care.

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What makes our homelessness services different?

When other services end, we begin

Most aged care is not equipped to support people experiencing homelessness, and homelessness services often lack expertise for older people. Our homelessness services bridge these gaps with expertise in both aged care and homelessness, allowing us to welcome the people no one else can, preventing ‘sleeping rough’ or long stays in hospital.

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Choice, care and a stable home forever

For many older people who experience homelessness, mistrust of health institutions is a barrier to much needed support. The dignity of choice, meaningful relationships and freedom of movement help new residents embrace a home that is safe and caring, for as long as it's needed.

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Loving arms and services 'wrap-around'

Relationship-based care means small, empowered care teams growing to know the same residents over time. It’s not uncommon to hear both residents and the team describe this as ‘family’. Trauma-informed includes recognising the value of wrap-around services such as pastoral care, palliative care, legal, mental health services and alcohol and drug support.

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Design that enables independence

Our building design is not only based on research, but more than 30 years’ experience providing small, domestic, familiar and non-institutional care homes, with kitchens and outdoor access, that help maximise resident independence and quality of life. This small-household design was recommended by the Aged Care Royal Commission and is now the preferred aged care approach.

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Research and care go hand in hand

Across HammondCare, research closely aligns with the services we provide, as part of our commitment to continual improvement. This is the case for our homelessness services where research projects both inform and learn from the care we provide.

High level care for complex needs

Our focus is to care for those that others can’t or won’t. In homelessness services, this includes filling a significant gap by providing high-level clinical care – including 24/7 nursing support – for complex needs in the context of homelessness, mental health and trauma. Other homelessness services often refer people to us.

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Located where the need is greatest

HammondCare Darlinghurst

Since opening in 2020, the 42-place HammondCare Darlinghurst has supported more than 160 older people with complex needs, experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Adapting our sector-leading small household design to an inner-city location, we’ve researched each step of our trauma-informed care as we develop further residential services.

As well as offering a safe and stable home, the location near one of Australia’s highest concentrations of older people experiencing homelessness, ensures residents remain connected to the community they are familiar with, so that it’s easier to make a new home and receive care that is much needed.

Alongside a trained, dedicated and empowered care team, the Darlinghurst home maintains strong partnerships with local homelessness, mental health, drug and alcohol and Indigenous support services, the team at St Vincent’s Hospital as well as our own clinical, health and aged care experts. Another key partnership is with St John’s Anglican Church (next door) including Rough Edges.

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Future homelessness services

Building on the success of our Darlinghurst care home, we are actively exploring new opportunities for our next specialist care home for older people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness with complex care needs.

The 2021 Census shows again that older people’s homelessness continues to grow - every night more than 19,378 Australians aged 55 or above are experiencing homelessness, representing one in seven (15.8%) of the overall homelessness population. And this is especially true for the City of Sydney with one of the highest concentrations of older people facing homelessness.

That’s why we remain dedicated to serving this vulnerable community.

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"Their only reward is the happiness of people living with the black fear of homelessness hanging over their heads."

Rev Bob Hammond

1933, speaking of why we help people experiencing homelessness.

Finding comfort after lifelong heartache

A proud First Nations woman, Mona is part of the Stolen Generation. Her childhood memories reveal pain, suffering and lifelong heartache. Mona was one of up to 800 older people experiencing homelessness in inner Sydney. At her last hospital admittance, a social worker advocated for Mona to move into HammondCare Darlinghurst.

She says she’s now being looked after and gets the greatest care. When Mona joined us, she had experienced behaviours that impacted her care and had been prescribed antipsychotic medications. Today, living in a safe, comfortable, and loving environment, Mona has developed trusting relationships and knows we have her best interests at heart.

Our team consider it a privilege to get to know Mona, to understand what is important to her and to help her achieve her goals – most notably her successful withdrawal from antipsychotic medications.

Name and photo changed to protect privacy.

Safe now after being petrified every night

Kenny, aged 82, was reasonably independent and living in a Sydney boarding house. But as this environment deteriorated, he spent a hellish 12 months feeling afraid every night, not being able to sleep until he was no longer able to support himself.

Kenny says he saw the worst you could ever see and so when he was able to move into HammondCare Darlinghurst, he says in his first month ‘I slept practically the whole time’.

As safe as he now felt, he was upset that his much-loved cat Willow, who he’d had for 12 years, was not with him. But once he settled in, Willow came to join him and he (and Willow) feel completely at home. Kenny says, ‘I don’t have one complaint, not one. They have been so nice to me.’

helping older homeless icon Every night more than 19,378 Australians aged 55 or above are experiencing homelessness, representing one in seven (15.8%) of the overall homelessness population

Caring for those in need, regardless of circumstances

Alongside our dedicated older people’s homelessness services, we are committed to improving quality of life for people in need, regardless of their circumstances. Across residential care, home care and health services, we have a long record of supporting the most vulnerable, including those experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Care services

Our palliative staff specialists

HammondCare’s palliative care services are led by an experienced and respected team of leaders in the field of palliative and supportive care. This includes leading palliative care medical specialists and researchers striving for excellence in clinical care and better outcomes for patients.