A homeless person can be described as someone who does not have safe and secure housing. There are homeless people that are visible on the streets and those that are not visible. This includes those who may stay with others temporarily, be subject to overcrowded accommodation or be staying in temporary accommodation such as caravan parks or crisis - accommodation. This can severely affect their access to health care including palliative care.
Both alcohol and smoking are major risk factors for life-limiting conditions including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and COPD. There is a strong association between problematic alcohol drinking and homelessness. Information on smoking suggests many may be smokers. One in four people in Australia who had ever experienced homelessness rate their health as fair or poor. This is almost double that of those who have not experienced homelessness.
Common barriers to accessing palliative care for people who are homeless include:
Homelessness also presents challenges for referrals and follow-up care. Homeless people are subject to negative stereotyping and discrimination. Many have faced multiple challenges in life and are more likely to have poorer health than the general population. As homelessness can affect people from many specific population groups, the crossover between groups can add to the complexity of their situation.
To learn more about our homeless population, visit the ELDAC website and the Australian Government Department of Health Exploratory Analysis of Barriers to Palliative Care - Issues Report on People Experiencing Homelessness.
This information was drawn from the following resources:
Last updated 02 August 2021