In the new season of Aphra's Taking care podcast, host Tash Miles is joined by Dr Ed Poliness of The Living Room (Victoria) and Dr Andrew Davies of Homelessness Healthcare (Western Australia) to discuss how people experiencing homelessness are accessing healthcare, and the work being done by practitioners and others to improve these experiences.

Dr Ed Poliness has worked at The Living Room for more than a decade, and has seen some patients regularly over that period.

He says being a part of a patient’s journey can be very rewarding.

Dr Poliness proudly shares stories of ‘the patients who I haven’t seen for, you know, five or more years who you just come across in your life. You’re going out to the cinema … and patients will come back or come up to you and say, “Look, you might not remember me, you saw me five years ago over a period of a year and thank you and the team at The Living Room for helping me during that stage.”’

Dr Poliness is featured alongside Dr Andrew Davies who founded Homeless Healthcare in 2008 to tackle the underlying health issues that contributed to homelessness in his patients in Western Australia.

He says that the biggest barrier is having safe access to the basics.

‘If you haven’t got somewhere to sleep or somewhere to go to the toilet or something like that, then you really aren’t going to be able to address health issues, so it’s really about what the priorities are for that homeless person.’

He says a co-ordinated approach that is focussed on the needs of the person, is essential.

‘We try to use whatever is going to suit the patient the most.

‘If we have the ability to do it inhouse and the person wants that, we’ll try and do things inhouse, but we work quite well with the outreach services,’ Dr Davies said.

What do both Dr Ed Poliness and Dr Andrew Davies see as crucial to improving access to healthcare for people experiencing homelessness? Well, you'll have to tune into Episode 1 of Taking care which is available now. Listen to the full episode here.

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About Taking care

The Taking care podcast series offers professional and consumer perspectives on current issues and answers some frequently asked questions about public safety in healthcare. Download and listen to the latest Taking care episode today.

Ahpra releases a new episode fortnightly, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking Care’ in your podcast player.