Vulnerable Homeless Population’s Healthcare Issues

Homeless persons were chosen as a vulnerable population for the presentation. Homeless individuals are at increased risk of developing various infectious and non-infectious diseases due to the barriers to the healthcare they have to face. Mortality rates among this vulnerable population are higher compared to the non-homeless population of the United States. Many homeless persons die of infections such as HIV and tuberculosis, heart diseases, substance abuse, unintentional injuries, suicides, or homicides (Fazel, Geddes, & Kushel, 2014). Mortality rates are also high among homeless young adults and older persons, although they die of the same causes listed above.

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Due to limited healthcare access, homeless individuals cannot receive care that would help them cope with such serious diseases as HIV, hepatitis C, or cancer. Intravenous drug use increases the risk of being infected with HIV and hepatitis C, and this risk is aggravated by the fact that drug use is widespread among homeless persons. Another important factor is mental illnesses that often remain undiagnosed and untreated in homeless individuals and severely complicate their life, affecting their physical and psychological state. The stigma surrounding homeless people also prevents them from receiving adequate care. Not all states or urban and rural areas have hospitals and care facilities that could provide quality care for this population (Fazel et al., 2014). Education of this population is possible, although somewhat complicated. As they often get into ER, nurses have the opportunity to educate them about the importance of some disease prevention techniques. However, due to limited resources and low quality of life, this education might not be helpful. It is essential to assess what barriers to health care this population faces to understand how nursing professionals can help them. Furthermore, it is also possible that this assessment will help craft drafts for policies that will directly target homeless people.

References

Fazel, S., Geddes, J. R., & Kushel, M. (2014). The health of homeless people in high-income countries: Descriptive epidemiology, health consequences, and clinical and policy recommendations. The Lancet, 384(9953), 1529-1540.

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