The Sister Francesca Healy Cottage (The Cottage) provides a holistic Hospital in the Home nursing care for women and men experiencing homelessness or social isolation or barriers to mainstream healthcare.
Established in 1995, The Cottage is the only facility of its kind in Australia.
It is staffed 24 hours, 365 days a year. Medical care, provision of meals and assistance in completing activities of daily living is provided by personal carers, hospital medical staff and St Vincent’s At Home nursing staff. Referrals are made to and from various social, welfare, housing, health and support agencies.
During the course of a Cottage admission, staff associated with the patient journey engage with patients, in an inclusive and culturally sensitive manner, which seeks to enhance the patient experience and maximize opportunity for better health outcomes.
The Cottage is physically designed to feel like home. On arrival, clients are welcomed by staff and introduced to others, before more formal orientation to the house takes place.
Social integration, engagement and inclusion are vital to the working and success of this model. Art Therapy, educative cooking of light snacks and non-judgemental communication are some of the keys to making the Cottage a success.
The Cottage has an extremely positive effect on many of the patients who come through its doors. St Vincent’s at Home nursing team and Cottage care staff regularly receive letters thanking them for the care and friendship they provide to people who find access to healthcare and acceptance of mainstream services an ongoing challenge.
Cottage Manager Byron Lazarides says it is impossible to thank everyone, as so many people have made valuable contributions to the Cottage over many years, but highlighted two who were integral in getting the unique service up and running.
“Sister Cathy Meese and Trish Dalton were pivotal in getting the Cottage up and running in the early days,” Byron says.
The Cottage turns 21 this year.
Some kind words:
“To all of the extraordinary people at the Cottage. I know I am not worthless or hopeless. Your care, kindness and compassion have helped me realise I need to start over and create something better. Each and every one of you has played a part at this time.”
“Dear staff at the Cottage, the nurses who visit and of course the guys form the hospital who bring the food – thank you for all of your care, support and services. You provided such a comforting and safe environment and helping me on the road to recovery (once again). P.S: I think you might be out of butter!”
“To all the amazing staff at the Cottage… thank you, thank you, thank you. I was truly blessed to have landed here and you took the time to get to know me.”