A job that changes lives: Supportive Housing Case Manager

5 October 2022
three staff members with a dog smiling into the camera

“We have fun, work hard and enjoy each other’s company,” says Brenton about his role with our Supportive Housing Teams. On top of that, the team makes a huge difference in the lives of people experiencing homelessness as they assist clients to find stable housing and settle into their homes and communities.

Brenton is the Coordinator of our Supportive Housing Program ‘GreenLight’. He remembers many memorable moments with clients. One time, a client told him they weren’t able to do anything productive. “Through regular support, outreach and discussions around goals, the client began to settle in their tenancy. They got more contact with their child and they started looking for work which previously was not even on their radar,” Brenton says.

Positive outcomes like this are based on a relationship of trust between our staff and their clients. “By building rapport with them I can be sure the client will get quality support and achieve great outcomes,” explains Supportive Housing Case Manager Estella who works with Brenton in the GreenLight team.

A typical day in the life of a Supportive Housing Case Manager

Estella’s workday usually starts with a coffee and a chat with the whole team in the office. They talk about their day ahead, urgent tasks, and sometimes the footy match from the night before.

Afterwards, she often meets with clients at their properties, for example to support them to set up utilities, manage invoices or simply to see how they are going. “That’s really the best part of my job – getting to know my clients,” Estella says. “When the client likes meeting with you, they can get the most out of the program.”

To organise referrals to health and wellbeing services for her clients, Estella regularly meets with our care team. Some administrative tasks are also on Estella’s to do list. She completes them in the office where she later catches up with the rest of her team to check around how people’s days have been.

Estella appreciates that she can control how her workday looks like – and so does Brenton: “If you need a quieter day in the office, you’re able to arrange more admin time. If you want to get out of the office, you can plan more outreaches and meet with your clients,” Brenton says.

The right support at the right time

The Supportive Housing Teams work based on a unique approach we call the Continuum of Care (CoC). Instead of the traditional ‘one size fits all’ homelessness support, we aim to provide people with the right level of support at the right time.

“The Continuum of Care has a big focus on utilising all the different services Sacred Heart Mission provides to ensure a consistent approach and timely responses to the needs of the client,” Brenton explains. “This way we can reduce the number of times a client needs to tell their story by keeping their continued care in the Sacred Heart Mission family,” Estella adds.

To better understand how the Continuum of Care works, Estella gives an example:

“A female client may come to our Engagement Hub on Grey Street looking for a warm meal. Through conversation with her, staff at the Engagement Hub discover that this person is seeking support to update their application for social housing in the Victorian Housing Register.”

“Knowing this, our staff refer the client to the Women’s House where she receives six-weeks of case management and support to update her application.”

“Afterwards, the client can be referred to our housing allocation team to be considered for one of the more than 100 community housing properties available to our clients,” Estella says.

“After the female client is allocated housing, she will be referred to one of our Supportive Housing programs where the client will be supported to set up her new home and keep a healthy tenancy.”

Patience, empathy and teamwork

Estella and Brenton find their work rewarding because of the outcomes they achieve for their clients, but also thanks to the good team culture: “Everyone is so supportive, friendly, and has a big focus on work-life balance.” Brenton says “Having a good office environment makes the difficult things that we might encounter in our day to day work easier to overcome.”

“Challenges in my role are met with patience, empathy and understanding, rather than criticism or rebuking,” Estella says. “I appreciate the Mission’s investment in me as a tool in the fight to end homelessness.”

“We need good people to make great changes.”

The team is currently looking for additional Supportive Housing Case Managers. “We greatly need workers who place the client first and are excited to encourage positive change in people’s lives,” Estella says. “We need good people in the field if we are to make great changes. Apply please!”

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