Harmony House Offers Respite Care

Photo of Harmony House entrance
The Respite Center will open April 1.

Photo of Harmony House unit
Harmony House offers 17 beds.

It is painful to be homeless, no matter what the cause; but for a hospitalized homeless man facing early release from an under-funded, overcrowded hospital and with nowhere to go but the streets, it is also frightening.

Missions and shelters are poorly equipped to help those who are recovering from a medical illness or injury. Shelters often require that residents leave the facility in the early morning hours regardless of weather conditions. Sick or injured homeless persons are extremely vulnerable.

Harmony House Respite Center is a collaborative endeavor between Health Care for the Homeless-Houston and Harmony House, Inc. The Respite Center will provide transitional supportive housing for homeless men in need of medical recovery illness or acute physical injury; men who are not sick enough to be in the hospital but are too sick to be on the streets. Participants will be offered a drug and alcohol-free nurturing environment for physical recovery, emotional and spiritual healing and case-managed social services to promote self- sufficiency. A primary care medical clinic will be located on-site.

The Respite Center will offer two residential programs: the three to six months Respite Program and the six months to one year Supportive Living Program. Residents of the Respite Center will have the support of a Program Director, licensed vocational nurse and a physician consultant. The Case Manager and Substance Abuse Counselor will supervise and coordinate social services including employment and housing counseling and on-site twelve-step programs. Residents will attain permanent housing or appropriate transitional housing before leaving the facility.

Harris County Hospital District's public hospitals, private hospitals, and community agencies will refer residents to the facility. The Respite Center program will follow a social service rather than a medical model for the delivery of service to the homeless. A non-medical, social service facility requires that referrals to be mentally alert; able to self-medicate; and able to manage basic living skills without assistance.

The referring hospital will transport the patient to the Respite Center, provide a comprehensive medical care plan for the patient's recovery and identify a hospital primary care physician responsible for the patient's medical care. Residents will connect with primary care through the on-site medical clinic. Residents will be transported to outpatient and medical follow-up off-site care. Additionally, the referring hospital will be responsible for the resident's medication, medical supplies and home health care for up to 30 days. HUD funded by a Supportive Housing Grant, the Harmony House Respite program is free to qualifying women and men. Private or public health insurance is not required.

Content Archived: July 22, 2011