Bethlehem House provides accommodation and case management services alongside partner agencies within Housing Connect to approximately 20 clients on any day, requiring medium term support accommodation before being able to move on to affordable longer term housing.
There are 12 short-term crisis accommodation beds, 1 overnight emergency bed and 17 medium to long-term beds.
We operate a strict no drugs or alcohol abuse policy which helps to create a stable, rehabilitation based living environment.
We operate a mixed model including co-located independent living units close by Bethlehem House which give the flexibility of transitional accommodation for men to move back into the community. As part of the transitional process caseworkers are able to assist men to re-connect with their children and to learn to manage their own home. Transitional residents are able to retain the security needed to develop their independence through links with the case worker and meal support services.
The rate of utilisation for all accommodation has increased during 2017 which suggests an overall increase in demand for services. Utilisation rates for the 12 short-term emergency beds was 84%. The rate of utilisation for overnight emergency beds peaked in August at 83.9%. The rate of utilisation for medium term accommodation is almost 90.8% and transitional occupancy of 80.7%. Taking into account beds under maintenance and clients exiting the service during weekend periods, this means that there is almost continuous full occupancy. Housing Connect has a steady stream of referrals to Bethlehem House as vacancies arise. When capacity has been reached, Bethlehem House continually has to turn away homeless men seeking shelter.
Residential clients give a financial contribution based on 70% of their total income, which enables us to provide a wraparound care service including 24 hour waking care staff, three meals a day plus snacks, hot drinks and access to fridges, all-day laundry and shower facilities, clothing and transport assistance. This model works well for men in crisis dealing with drug, alcohol and gambling addiction issues. Men seeking short-term emergency accommodation can access a rent-free period of up to 14 days, or until their first income payment. There is no fee for the use of the overnight emergency bed.
Non-residents/rough sleepers also have access to meals and can access a free breakfast on weekdays. An evening meal for non-residents is provided on weekdays for a nominal charge. Ablution facilities for non-residents, including showers, toilets and clothes washing facilities are accessible twice daily on weekdays.
On average, Bethlehem House provides 151 breakfasts, 132 dinners, 87 showers to non-residents, 43 laundry services to non-residents and 15 blankets/ clothing and sleeping bags to rough sleepers in any given work month.
All homeless men receive case worker assistance to plan their exit to stable living circumstances.
Bethlehem House aims to provide a holistic and client-centred support to men who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Service coordination and intensive case management are core to our service alongside information provision, personal one to one and group counselling and either one-off intervention to respond to a crisis or episodic brief intervention. A scarcity of resources means we can provide only a limited amount of independent living skills and social inclusion programs.
Case workers at Bethlehem House seek to empower clients and provide case co-ordination to link clients to services such as health and medical support, legal assistance and housing providers, facilitating on-site training and support for residents.
Other Agencies, students and volunteers
We are very thankful for the ongoing involvement of other organisations who step in to support our men here on the premises. We would especially grateful to All Round Health, Holyoake, the Bridge Program, Centrelink, Wellways, Ming our Community Nurse and Father Graham Howard who all provide weekly services to residents and encouragement.
Bethlehem House provides a stable, safe place for homeless men to receive care, compassion and support where they can begin to address the issues that have led to their homelessness and plan to rebuild their lives. Repeat homelessness is not uncommon, however our door is always open.
One of the key services provided by staff at Bethlehem House is to support residents to manage their medications. Staff undertake appropriate training to assist clients in medication compliance. Residents are encouraged to attend a GP appointment where all medications are reviewed for effectiveness and currency. Where possible, medication is issued from a local Pharmacy in webster packs and bulk billing to Commonwealth PBS is arranged which reduces or eliminates charges to clients.
Many Bethlehem House clients have issues of trust with medical and other professionals and are more willing to access these services within a safe environment. All Round Community Health provides a weekly outreach clinic at Bethlehem House for triage of minor injuries, assessment and medicines administration. Follow up appointments are available on or off site and all services are bulk-billed. Men typically maintain contact with medical services via the provider once they have exited Bethlehem House, which is a good outcome for them.
Our services to non- residents have expanded in 2015/6 with an increased number of non-residents accessing Bethlehem House for breakfast, dinner or to shower of use the laundry facilities. Close to 3,500 ration pack containing non-perishable food items have been distributed.