The Sister Francesca Healy Cottage (The Cottage) provides a welcome safe haven and supportive place where people experiencing homelessness or social isolation can prepare for medical treatment or recover from illness with the help of a dedicated team of specialists and carers. Set up in 1995, it’s the only facility of its kind in Australia.
The Cottage is staffed 24 hours, 365 days a year. Care, provision of meals and assistance in completing activities of daily living (ADLs) is provided by personal carers, hospital medical staff and St Vincent’s At Home nursing staff. Referrals are made with various social, welfare, housing, health and support agencies.
Throughout 2013, 130 clients were admitted to The Cottage, with a total number of 163 admissions. The average length of stay was 7.8 days (range 2–59). 25 clients had more than one admission during the 2013 calendar year.
During the course of a Cottage admission, nursing, personal care staff and other HARP staff associated with the patient journey engage with patients, in an inclusive and culturally sensitive manner which seeks to enhance the patient experience and maximise opportunity for better health outcomes.
The Cottage is physically designed to feel like a home like environment. On arrival, clients are welcomed and introduced to others, settled into their rooms or invited to share a cuppa, before more formal orientation to the house takes place.
Weekends see food as a vehicle for engagement, with staff cooking up eggs or porridge for a shared meal between clients.
It is not crisis accommodation or a substance withdrawal facility and is drug and alcohol free. To be suitable for the Cottage, the patient must be able to ambulating independently, be orientated and cooperative, not acutely withdrawing from any substance and have a discharge plan following the Cottage admission.