IJERPH, Vol. 18, Pages 12770: Development and Initial Evaluation of a Nurse-Led Healthcare Clinic for Homeless and At-Risk Populations in Tasmania, Australia: A Collaborative Initiative (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
People who are homeless experience significantly poorer health than the general population and often face multifaceted challenges engaging with public healthcare services. Mission Health Nurse-led Clinic (MHNC) was established in 2019 to meet the healthcare needs of this marginalised population in Launceston, Tasmania. This study examines barriers to healthcare access amongst individuals who experience homelessness, client and staff perceptions of the MHNC services and explored opportunities for service expansion. Descriptive statistics were drawn from administrative data, and all interviews were thematically analysed. A total of 426 presentations were reported for 174 individuals experiencing homelessness over 26 months. The median client age was 42 years and 60.9% were male; A total of 38.5% were homeless or lived in a supported accommodation. The predominant reasons for clinic visits included prescription requests (25.3%) and immunisations (20.1%). A total of 10 clients and 5 City Mission staff were interviewed with three themes emerging from the findings: personal vulnerability, disconnectedness and acceptability of the MHNC. The MHNC services were reported to be highly appreciated by all clients. Mental health and allied health, extra operating hours and maintaining the flexibility of walk-in appointments were suggested as expansion areas for the service and were highlighted as ways to increase engagement for improved health outcomes. Continued partnerships with interprofessional primary healthcare providers would contribute to addressing unmet healthcare needs in this vulnerable population.