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Accessing safe healthcare when you’re homeless

26 Jul 2022

In this episode of Taking care we spotlight the important work being done to support better access to safe care for people who experience homelessness. 

Key points
  • In a new season of our Taking care podcast, we investigate the barriers to accessing safe healthcare.

  • In episode one, we discuss how people experiencing homelessness are accessing healthcare, and the work being done by practitioners and others to improve these experiences.

  • Host Tash Miles is joined by GPs Dr Andrew Davies of Homeless Healthcare in WA, and Dr Ed Poliness of The Living Room in Victoria.


Host Tash Miles speaks to two GPs working in this space; Dr Ed Poliness, who’s a GP at The Living Room in Victoria, and Dr Andrew Davies; GP and founder of Homeless Healthcare in Western Australia.

Dr Davies founded Homeless Healthcare in 2008 to tackle the underlying health issues that contributed to homelessness in his patients.

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 focused 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.

Dr Poliness has worked at the Living Room for the past 11 years, 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.”’

What do they see as crucial to improving this access?  Listen to the full episode here.

Useful links

Did you know?

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.

Contact us

  • For media enquiries, phone (03) 8708 9200. 
  • If you have questions or feedback about the podcast, email [email protected]
Page reviewed 26/07/2022