Community health nurses improving health outcomes of public housing residents

Posted on 20th September 2023
A group of people sitting in a circle and participating in a physiotherapy session at cohealth Community Connectors in Collingwood.

Sally is a community health nurse who supports public housing residents through cohealth’s Client Community Pathway. As a nurse, she provides health checks, health information, and referrals to other services. Part of the Community Connectors program, Client Community Pathway helps to provide public housing residents with access to health-related information, referrals to other healthcare services, health check-ups, social support, and more. The team is made up of community health nurses based in the community rooms of public housing sites in Williamstown, Flemington, North Melbourne, Collingwood, Fitzroy, and Carlton. Having community health nurses on-site ensures a strong presence where residents can readily engage with them for their healthcare needs. 

Collingwood resident V is one of many residents who Sally has supported in their health journey, and she says that Sally has changed her life. V is a public housing resident living in Collingwood with complex health issues, who struggled to get support from her local GP. When V visited the community room in Collingwood, she met Sally and asked her for assistance. After V explained what was going on,  Sally was able to refer V to a cohealth GP who could support her.  

“Sally was amazing,” says V “She helped me get an appointment right away.”   

In addition to providing support to residents, community health nurses organise classes and activities that promote the health and wellbeing of public housing residents. Sally runs a gentle exercises class in Collingwood and Fitzroy weekly, of which V is a regular attendee. 

“I really enjoy attending the classes because they bring people together,” reflects V “They help keep me on track with my health goals and prevent them from getting worse.”     

Community health nurse Sally guiding an exercise class with four public housing residents

Like V, Olivia is a Carlton resident who community health nurse Kate was able to assist. Olivia contacted the Community Connectors team for help finding a suitable psychiatrist, so the team directed her to Kate. Kate listened attentively to Olivia’s concerns and learned that she had a mental health care plan from her GP, but did not know how to access mental health services. Kate explored several mental health services with Olivia, aiming to find one that met her needs. She eventually found one that suited Olivia, and Olivia was able to receive the right support.  

It felt rewarding that I could problem solve for her and assist to navigate health services that weren’t fully understood by her,” said Kate. 

The public housing residents say the community health nurses provide a vital service. This is clear by the countless thank you cards, emails, and appreciation shown by residents. The community health nurses are passionate about their roles and dedicated to serving the community.  

“It’s the most rewarding work,” says Sally  

Kate agrees, saying she loves working with the community.   

“I find great fulfillment in witnessing something that appears straightforward for us to assist with but can have a profound impact on an individual’s day-to-day life.”    

The community health nurses are instrumental in enhancing the lives of public housing residents through personalised care and vital support, as seen in the experience of V, Olivia, and many other residents. Their commitment leads to improved well-being and a healthier community.

The Client Community Pathways program is set to end in December with hopes for further funding to continue delivering support to communities. 

*Names have been changed to protect resident privacy. 

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