Vulnerable Population and Self-Awareness Paper: Substance Abuse Lesley Pyron
University of Phoenix
Vulnerable Population and Self-Awareness Paper
Effective healthcare is dependent on understanding vulnerable individuals and populations with respect to biases and prejudices of healthcare providers. According to de Chesnay (2008), “Vulnerability is a general concept meaning susceptibility, and its specific connotation in terms of healthcare is at risk for health problems” (p. 3). Anyone can be vulnerable at different times in his or her life under specific circumstances. According to de Chesnay (2008), “Vulnerable populations are those at risk for poor physical, psychological, or social health. Anyone can be vulnerable at any given point in time as a result of life circumstances or response to illness or events” (p. 3). In order to render good healthcare, healthcare providers need to be aware of their own vulnerability. This paper will discuss the homeless as a vulnerable population; the demographics of the homeless; a personal awareness of the homeless including attitudes, biases, and stereotypes prior to studying homelessness; the impact of research on personal attitudes after gathering knowledge about the homeless; and how the knowledge might affect the delivery of healthcare to the homeless. Homeless Demographics
In the United States, statistics show an increase in the number of homeless people. The National Coalition for the Homeless (2008) stated: A person is considered homeless who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence; and... has a primary night time residency that is: (A) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations... (B) an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized, or (C) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings. (para. 1) Approximately three and a half million people per year experience homelessness (LAHSC: Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition, 2008). Children under the age of 18 account for 39% of the homeless population and 42% are under the age of five (LAHSC: Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition, 2008). Women account for 43% of the homeless population with 40% being alone; 22% claim domestic abuse as the reason for homelessness; and 25% claim domestic violence in the past year (LAHSC: Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition, 2008). Approximately 33% of the homeless population is families with children (LAHSC: Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition, 2008). Veterans comprise approximately 40% of the homeless population (LAHSC: Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition, 2008). Approximately one in every five homeless person has a severe or persistent mental illness (LAHSC: Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition, 2008). Approximately 25% of the homeless nationwide are employed. Approximately 42% of homeless people are African-American, 39% white, 13% Hispanic, 4% Native-American, and 2% Asian (LAHSC: Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition, 2008). Ethnicity varies depending on geographic location. Personal Awareness of Homelessness
Many stereotypes, biases, and attitudes towards the homeless exist. I have stereotyped the homeless as those who do not wish to work, substance abusers, and those who make a choice to be homeless. I believe that some of them made a choice in their life to remain homeless. I do understand that becoming homeless, most likely, was not their idea. Low-income housing is available in most areas and I have a hard time understanding why people cannot work a part-time job to help support themselves. I have witnessed the homeless begging for money on the streets and panhandling. They sometimes use this money to buy cigarettes or alcohol. I believe that panhandling punishments should be enforced, and that this is unsafe...