St Bartholomew’s House was established in 1963 at the Rectory of St Bartholomew’s Church in Kensington Street, East Perth, following discussions between Archbishop George Appleton and Dr James Watson. Having been Archdeacon of London, the Archbishop thought the name of St Bartholomew’s House suitable, relating it to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. (This hospital, founded by the monk Rahere, was originally established to care for the needy and homeless). St Barts fulfilled a vital role in giving assistance and shelter to men in crisis and need within the Perth area. Initially, mattresses were placed on the floor of the Church Hall behind the Rectory and facilities were primitive.
Since then the work has grown. In 1975, after a five-year fund-raising program, a hostel was built on the site of the old Church Hall. The hostel faces Brown Street and comprises 2 two-storey blocks, which provided single room accommodation for 37 men.
In the early 1980s the Rectory was replaced by a night shelter. The Night Shelter, as it was then known, provided emergency accommodation for up to 27 men. It was opened by Archbishop Peter Carnley on Sunday, August 28, 1983.
In 1993 the night shelter was renovated and converted into single room accommodation. No longer called a night shelter, it became part of the overall House. In August 2002, a new hostel was opened. The building of this hostel was made possible by St Bartholomew’s House having a joint venture with the Department of Housing and Works who provided the costs for the building of the hostel on St Bartholomew’s House land.
The needs of the men in crisis are still as great today as they were years ago; only the age of the group has changed. St Barts is now providing accommodation for much younger men.
In December 1987, St Bartholomew’s Council, in its desire to move forward, reviewed its position and concluded that it had reached the crossroads”. The Council commissioned a report on how best to implement the necessary changes to permit ongoing growth and development. The report was completed in March 1988 and the Council adopted the recommendations made, which covered philosophy, the management structure, staffing, administration, policies and various physical changes. The most important and difficult change for the Council to effect was that relating to attitude. St Bartholomew’s moved away from being simply a shelter for men in need, to having a more holistic and personalised approach to each resident. This was based on the following components:
- Tolerance and respect for the dignity of the person, regardless of his presentation or circumstances.
- The cultivation of a relationship of confidence and trust.
- The offer of assistance and support for the person, by assisting him to overcome his difficulties so that he was able to return to independent living.
- The offer of ongoing and continuous support through the transitional period.
These changes having been effected, St Bartholomew’s House then faced the challenge of meeting the needs of men who sought help and of assisting them to independent living. St Barts offers the opportunity for the residents to improve their lifestyles. They are actively encouraged to develop life skills, which enables them to live and work successfully within the wider community.
The basic necessities, i.e. accommodation, ablutions, three meals per day and clothing are provided as the first step in this process. Support and advice are given, and men are assisted to achieve financial security by obtaining those benefits to which they are entitled.
Generally residents are encouraged to accept greater responsibility, to improve their self-esteem and sense of worth, to develop important life skills and to seek employment. Residents are also encouraged to participate in keeping their living environment clean and well maintained. Some residents enter in an agreement to assist with the regular cleaning of the hostels.
Residents enter a work environment with the support and encouragement of the St Bartholomew’s House staff. Support is also given as they move out into the wider community. Encouragement, support and assistance are given in an atmosphere of acceptance and friendship in which the individual is treated with dignity and respect.
James Watson Hostel (Residential Aged Care)
In 1994, St Bartholomew’s House commenced the biggest extension program since its beginnings in 1963. The program included the construction of a 16-bed frail-aged hostel for men who were financially, socially and/or physically disadvantaged. As such, this hostel was a first for Western Australia.
The Council of the St Bartholomew’s initially considered the concept of a frail-aged hostel for disadvantaged men in 1989. During that year a number of the long-term residents who were elderly became frail and unable to care for themselves. In normal circumstances, these men would have been asked to move to other accommodation. The policy of the House and its inability to provide more than basic staff resources required residents to be fully independent. However, an exception had to be made with particular men. It was found to be very difficult to place them in other accommodation where they would be accepted and receive the level of care they required. Staff members agreed to do their best to look after them for as long as possible and in one case provided care until the resident died.
The difficulty experienced in looking after this group of frail-aged residents led to the concept of St. Bartholomew’s developing an additional unit specially to provide a service for elderly men who were disadvantaged and who required a high level of support and care. Discussions commenced with the Commonwealth Department of Health, Housing, Local Government and Community Services in late 1989. The concept was well received.
Unfortunately, however, there was not a category within the Commonwealth Government guidelines to authorise the funding of such a project, at the time.
The Government subsequently accepted that there was a need to provide hostel care for frail-aged, disadvantaged lone men and in 1991 created a new category to enable such a hostel to be built in the inner city area. Applications for funding to establish and operate this new care service for frail-aged men were invited in 1992 and the House was successful in obtaining capital and recurrent funding for a twelve-bed hostel. This was followed, a year later, with a second approval for another four hostel places.
Since 1991, the House negotiated with various Governments to purchase land in close proximity to its existing property for the purpose of building the frail aged hostel as soon as the necessary funds became available. Protracted negotiations were eventually conducted with the East Perth Redevelopment Authority, which agreed to sell to the House the block of land between Brown and Kensington Streets on the western boundary of its existing site. Final settlement of this purchase was effected in November 1993.
The construction of the hostel commenced in mid 1994. It was opened in March 1995. In 2001, the House was successful in gaining licences for 4 additional aged care places in the James Watson Hostel to accommodate disadvantaged men. The Hostel now provides care and accommodation for 20 frail aged men.
- Find out more about St Bartholomew’s House Aged Care Services
Department of Housing – Crisis Units
In 1995, St Bartholomew’s House, Bentley Health Services and Homeswest (now known as Ministry of Housing and Works) held discussions to consider providing emergency and short-term accommodation to people with psychiatric disabilities in the East Metropolitan Health Region.
The aim of such a service is to -
(a) prevent people being kept in hospital due to not having accommodation on discharge; and
(b) prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital in the event of a person having a social or non-medical crisis.
On being discharged from hospital a person can stay at the unit up to eight weeks. This gives people time to organise more suitable and permanent accommodation and also enables their Case Managers to remain in contact with them. One of the problems which can be experienced is a person being discharged from hospital and losing contact with his/her Case Manager.
Staying at the unit assists in preventing this problem. Where a person has had a social or non-medical crisis and is at the unit the Case Manager is able to assist in monitoring and stabilising a person whose condition has deteriorated.
A suitable unit was located in Mallard Way, Cannington, which is close to the Mill Street Clinic and provides crisis and respite accommodation for up to six men and women. People can be referred from other Health regions. In 1996, approval was obtained from the Mental Health Division to open two more units, one in the Swan/Midland area and the other in the Rockingham/Kwinana area. The Swan unit in George Street, Midland, was opened on December 12, 1997, and the Rockingham Kwinana unit in Ougden Way, Medina, was opened on March 3, 1999.
In 2002, following a request from the Rockingham/Peel Mental Health Services, up to 3 residents at the Rockingham/Kwinana crisis unit can be accommodated for up to 6 months. This allows the mental health services to arrange long-term accommodation and monitor residents who have commenced a rehabilitation program.
- Find out more about St Bartholomew’s House Mental Health Support Services
Department of Housing – Independent Living Program
In 1994, St Bartholomew’s House was approached by the Mental Health Division and asked to consider entering a joint program with the Division and Ministry of Housing to provide long term accommodation options to people with psychiatric disabilities who experienced difficulty in accessing mainstream Ministry of Housing accommodation and who required extra support facilities to enable them to live successfully within the wider community.
A similar program had been operating successfully in the northern suburbs under the auspices of the Wesley Uniting Mission. It was agreed that St Bartholomew’s would operate a similar program in what used to be the Eastern Health Region, which covered suburbs such as Bentley, Victoria Park, Belmont, Queens Park, Como, South Perth, etc. Being a joint program between two government Departments and the House it is essential for the successful operations that the areas of responsibility are clearly defined.
Housing Authority – provides units and homes either from the existing stock or through spot purchases which are then head-leased to St Bartholomew’s House.
Mental Health Commission – provides recurrent funding to enable the House to provide non-clinical support and assistance to the person.
Bentley Health Clinic – provides all clinical support and back-up to the person which is necessary.
St Bartholomew’s House – provides a role as landlord and provision of basic support and assistance to the person.
The success of the program not only relies on the clear delineation of responsibility but also of maintaining good communication between the government departments and the House. It is essential that the Support Worker develops, maintains and enhances good communication between all parties participating in the program. In 2003, this program was expanded to include 60 units of homes for residents with severe and persistent mental illnesses.
Originally established in 1990 from funds received from the late Alice and Oliver Brown Bequest, this program was expanded in the late 1992 with funds received from the Ministry of Housing and Works. The House now operates two separate 2-bedroom units, one 3-bedroom house and one 4-bedroom house. Residents are encouraged to live independently with some support relating to budgeting and ongoing medical care and social contact.
The House headleases four other premises from Ministry of Housing and Works, which provide accommodation for people who have been resident at the Appleton Hostels and are now able to live independently with some support relating to budgets and ongoing medical and social contacts.
An additional 3-bedroom house, headleased from the Ministry of Housing and Works, was completed in September 2003. St Bartholomew’s House has identified the importance of these exit houses to allow residents to move out of supported accommodation and allow them to live independently. Minimal support continues to be given until residents can move to public or private rental accommodation.
- Find out more about St Bartholomew’s House Independent Living Program
Noel Bodycoat Care –Community Aged Care Packages
The House was funded in 2001 to provide care to 19 disadvantaged aged persons living in the community. The establishment of the James Watson Hostel in 1995 provided residential accommodation but some men accommodated in the Appleton Hostels did not want low-care hostel accommodation. To move from the Appleton Hostels to the James Watson Hostel was not something they wished to do, even though they recognised they needed more support.
This situation made it difficult for staff at the House because these men were becoming too frail or required additional care that could not be provided in their current accommodation. These ageing men wanted boarding house type accommodation with support, transport and hotel services. Others wanted to move into community accommodation but were unable to achieve their goal because of a variety of circumstances.
The House applied for funds from the Commonwealth Department for Health & Ageing to provide support to these men through aged care packages. The House was successful in obtaining 19 packages. This program was named after past Chairman Noel Bodycoat whose commitment and dedication to people experiencing homelessness was evident throughout his years as Chairman of the Board of Governance of St Bartholomew’s House.
As a result of an organisational and structural review of Anglicare WA in 2003, Anglicare transferred 20 Community Aged Care Packages and the Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged (ACHA) Program to St Bartholomew’s House.
The Noel Bodycoat Care Program now provides assistance and care to 50 people living in the community. The ACHA Program is designed to assist frail, low income older people who are renting, live in insecure housing or who are homeless, to remain in the community through accessing appropriate housing linked community aged care.
The introduction of this new program and alternative accommodation and support options for the residents of St Bartholomew’s House has increased the flexibility of accommodation and care options for the disadvantaged.
- Find out more about St Bartholomew’s House Aged Care Services