Established more than 30 years ago, our Homeless Persons Program (HPP) is one of Bolton Clarke’s unique services that looks after many of our nation’s most vulnerable.
In many ways our Homeless Persons Program takes us back to our roots where some of our earliest nurses looked after so many living in poverty on our city streets.
Today, Bolton Clarke’s Homeless Persons Program cares for so many who are without a home, or much-needed support networks of family and friends to help meet their needs. Last year our specialist nurses worked with 2,444 clients and delivered 36,451 visits to people in need.
One of those many clients is a woman named Peta who endured a difficult life of illness and spent much of her time isolated from family and friends. Her nurse Linda shares her memories of assisting Peta through the Homeless Persons Program.
“Peta was admitted to the Homeless Persons Program in 2005 and I first met her in 2008. Peta was a social recluse and was seen by many as an ‘outsider’. At 60 years of age, she looked very frail. She had a slender build and had endured the condition of scoliosis since childhood. Fiercely independent, Peta was very reluctant to engage with mainstream support services,” tells Linda.
Suffering from multiple health conditions including breast cancer, thyroid imbalance and glaucoma, Peta received much needed support from the HPP nurses like Linda.
“Peta had one surviving brother in fulltime care and she would visit him whenever possible,” adds Linda. “Apart from that she had very few friends and lived a simple life, with few possessions.”
The HPP nurses helped coordinate and accompany Peta to her many medical appointments, providing reassurance which gave Peta the confidence to go through with what was at times gruelling medical treatment.
“We worked collaboratively with the local community health centre and St Vincent’s Hospital to ensure Peta had the proper medical follow-up she needed,” adds Linda. “It helped to give Peta a voice to communicate her lived experience, something she found very difficult to do.”
After several years, once a solid trust relationship had formed, Peta began to accept home support, which enabled her to continue to live independently.
When Peta’s brother passed away, Bolton Clarke came to her assistance to ensure her small inheritance was appropriately invested to secure her future.
“We also came to her aid in 2014 when she was given notice to move out of her flat. She was extremely distressed, especially when she thought she may have to go into supported care,” adds Linda.
After tirelessly advocating and searching on her behalf, nurse Linda secured a lovely one-bedroom unit in Clifton Hill, managed by Catholic Homes. Our Homeless Support Program supported Peta through this stressful process and helped settle her into her new home, where she was able to live independently.
Sadly, Peta died in late 2016, but her legacy lives on and remains at the core of our commitment to ensure critical funding for the Homeless Support Program is maintained.
Thanks to the generous commitment of our donors and supporters, Bolton Clarke can continue to reach people just like Peta. People with increasingly diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds who are so often the forgotten people in our community.
Your ongoing donations and bequests will ensure Bolton Clarke can continue to provide support and services to more people just like Peta.
The Bolton Clarke Homeless Persons Program is a team of nurses who work with people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. We offer professional nursing care and support and can help locate the organisations that can assist with housing and meals, or legal and financial aid. Your donations help us to continue offering this vital service to some of our community’s most vulnerable people.
This story was first published in HouseCall February 2017
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