January 23, 2012
Vulnerable Population: Homeless
Many factors can affect the delivery of health care. It is believed that environmental, political, economic, medical, demographic location, social, cultural, and spiritual factors can affect certain population groups and can make these groups more vulnerable than the general population. The question of who is vulnerable and what makes an individual vulnerable has caused some debates. Rogers (1997) Vulnerability is a matter of degree. It is situational and is greatly affected by personal perception. There are various terms to describe these populations, such as “underserved populations,” “ medically underserved,” “ medically disadvantaged,” “underprivileged,” and “American underclasses” (Shi & Singh, 2010, p. 255). From the factors mentioned above, socio-economic, health, and geographic locations attribute the most to their vulnerability. Identifying, who is vulnerable can be extensive as there are no specific guidelines to define vulnerability thereby leaving it open to interpretation. Many groups embody this category such as the poor, mentally ill, drug dependents, undocumented immigrants, the veterans, people with disabilities, women, the young, and the eldery. The determination who belongs in these category is difficult as there are no standards what makes a person vulnerable thereby making the list boundless. This paper will focus on the homeless, as one identified vulnerable population and its effect on the health care delivery system.
The term homelessness has a comprehensive definition. The National Coalition for the Homeless (2011) website A homeless person is someone who does not have a fixed, regular, and sufficient night-time residence. According to Shi and Singh (2010) “Approximately 3.5 million people experience homelessness each year on a national level” (p. 264). Determining the number of
References: Blisard, N., & Harris, J. M. (2002, April). Measuring the well-being of the poor: Demographics of low-income households. Retrieved from http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/TB1898/ National Coalition for the Homeless. (2011, Dec 15). Who is homeless? Retrieved from http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/who.html National Coalition for the Homeless. (2006, Jun). Health care and homelessness. Retrieved from http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/facts/Health.pdf National Coalition for the Homeless. (2011, Dec 15). How Many People Experience Homelessness. Retrieved from http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/How_Many.html Rogers, A. C. (1997, Jul). Vulnerability, Health and Health Care. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 26(1), 65-72. Shi, L., & Singh, D. (2008). Delivering health care in America: A systems approach (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett. Singh, D., & Shi, L. (2010). Essentials of the U.S health care system (2nd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.