Improving drug and alcohol issues, reducing nights spent in hospital, staying housed and feeling safe at home has been proven possible, once again, for people experiencing chronic homelessness through a housing-first approach, coupled with intensive support, according to latest Australian research.
Today, Friday 17 August, Sacred Heart Mission (SHM) officially releases Chronic Homelessness in Melbourne: First-Year Outcomes of Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI), which provides more evidence that receiving permanent housing and intensive support is required for people experiencing homelessness to stay housed and improve their health and wellbeing.
Of the 60 people SHM started working within 2016 to end their cycle of homelessness through its innovative, proven J2SI program, 100 per cent met the criteria for chronic homelessness.
Cathy Humphrey, CEO, says SHM’s latest research shows one year into the program, despite a far more challenging housing environment in Victoria a monumental 60 per cent of people in the J2SI Phase II program were stably housed compared with 30 per cent for those in the randomised control group. “The report also measured the participant’s sense of safety within the home, which is a key determinant to the suitability and sustainability of accommodation,” Cathy says. “Of the participants interviewed, 56 per cent reported they felt safe ‘all of the time’, which is an increase of 44 per cent from baseline, with a further 22 per cent reporting feeling safe ‘most of the time’.”
Professor Paul Flatau, study lead, and Director of the Centre for Social Impact at The University of Western Australia says the other key outcome achieved in the first year of J2SI Phase II is related to improved health outcomes. This not only benefits people in the program but also contributes to significant cost savings to government and the community. "J2SI participants experienced a 64 per cent decrease in hospital admissions from baseline and a 93 per cent decrease in the average number of nights spent in drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities,” Paul says."Overall men's health costs decreased from $27,898 to $12,480, compared to an increase in cost for the comparison group."Paul says this report shows permanent housing will lead to improved outcomes across health and wellbeing over time. “The evidence continues to support J2SI is one of the most effective programs to end homelessness in Australia and I am looking forward to working with SHM to deliver J2SI Phase III in August 2018 to 180 people (60 per year for three years) experiencing chronic homelessness in Melbourne (see other media release.)”
Overall statistics from the report show: A highly vulnerable population
● 68% male, 32% female with an average age of 41 years
● 12.8% of research participants identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
● 20% report ‘very good’ health, compared with 56% of the general Australian population ● 33% are diagnosed with Hepatitis C, compared with 0.98% of the general Australian population
● 21.6% are diagnosed with an Acquired Brain Injury, compared with an estimated 2.2% of the general Australian population.
Improvements in the following areas
● A decrease in the proportion at high-risk for use of amphetamines from 21.6% to 12.7%
● A decrease in the proportion at high-risk use of opioids from 23.9% to 11.9%
● An increase in the proportion receiving methadone treatment from 17.2% to 25.4%
● A decrease in levels of overall psychological distress.
● The proportion of the J2SI group that were housed increased from 8.3% at baseline to 60% at the end of Year One
● The proportion of the control group that were housed increased from 9.5% at baseline to 31.1% at the end of Year One.
● The mean number of hospital nights over the previous 12 months decreased from 7.97 to 2.87 for the J2SI group compared to an increase from 3.23 to 7.24 for the control group
● The mean number of nights in drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities over the previous 12 months decreased from 11.45 to 0.80 for the J2SI group compared to a small decrease from 6.47 to 4.61 in the control group
● Overall mean health costs for J2SI group decreased from $27,898 to $12,480 compared to an increase from $14,426 to $24,478 for the control group.
Sacred Heart Mission is currently undertaking Phase II of the Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) program, which follows the pilot that ran from 2009 – 2012, more information here. The Chronic Homelessness in Melbourne: First-Year Outcomes is the second of many reports anticipated as part of J2SI Phase II, which goes over three years.
The J2SI Phase II Research Study is led by Professor Paul Flatau, Director of the Centre for Social Impact, University of Western Australia. Members of the research team are (listed in the report) from School of Health Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, School of Population Health, the University of Western Australia, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, the University of New South Wales, School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, the University of Western Australia, Department of Statistics, Data Science and Epidemiology, Swinburne University of Technology.