Homelessness is a social problem that affects the nature of relations between individuals in the contemporary community. One is considered homeless if their houses are below the minimum living standards. Scholars have categorized the social problem into three divisions that are primary, secondary, and tertiary homelessness. Each of these categories define a group of individuals based on their inability to afford quality housing that accommodates their needs and those of their dependents. Therefore, understanding homelessness enables individuals to make informed decisions during their interactions with the affected population groups.
Scholars have identified different causes of homelessness to promote awareness on the approaches people can use to overcome the social problem. For instance, when one runs away from an abusive family, it might take them long enough to regain their previous social status where they can provide for themselves and their dependents. In the same vein, suffering from a physical disability that hinders one to take care of their needs presents a certain level of difficulty, which affects the perspectives of individuals towards life. Other factors such as financial crisis, drug and substance abuse, and unemployment contribute largely towards homelessness.
In the U.S., over 550,000 people were homeless in 2018, demonstrating the inability of the developed country to take care of the needs of its citizens. The number is projected to increase over the years because of the unavailability of affordable housing, high unemployment rates, and poverty, which affect the ability of individuals to meet their basic needs. At night, the homeless population in the U.S. is capped at 0.2% of the country’s total population (Morton, Dworsky, & Samuels, 2017). From this realization, the U.S. federal administration should introduce measures that ensure the homeless population transition from their position in the community into a stable state where they can contribute towards the economic growth of the country.
Why do the Homeless Population Distrust the U.S. Healthcare System?
Homeless individuals have a higher probability of experiencing serious health problems because of their continued exposure to poor living habits that affect their medical state. From this observation, the population group has developed a high level of distrust for the U.S. healthcare system because of its inability and unwillingness to take care of their needs on demand. Unlike other population groups that have access to medical insurance and financial resources to facilitate the treatment process, homeless people barely have money for food. However, there is a need to observe the measures taken by healthcare providers to create an enabling environment that fosters healthy interactions between the medical practitioners and the homeless groups.
Unlike other people, homeless individuals are easily swayed into drug and substance abuse because of the unavailability of meaningful distractions such as employment and hobbies. In this regard, mental health presents a serious problem that affects the overall health of homeless individuals because of the constant thinking regarding their position in life. Besides, the lack of treatment options worsens their situation and interferes with their ability to focus on strategies that can elevate their status in the community (van den Berk-Clark & McGuire, 2014). It should be noted that the perspectives of medical practitioners towards homeless differs significantly compared to their interactions with the healthy population. For this reason, the growing distrust for the U.S. healthcare among the homeless individuals is influenced by its inability to respond to the people’s changing conditions.
Recent studies have established that homeless patient trust is largely influenced by a provider’s technical competence and the quality of welcomeness manifested during the patient-doctor interactions. It should be noted that a provider’s degree of welcomeness is also influenced by the general appearance of the homeless population groups. For instance, a homeless person might not have access to water and clean clothes, an aspect that contributes to their inadequate grooming. In the same vein, during medical appointments, a homeless individual may show up with their survival belongings, creating a negative perspective about their identity and social status. Some homeless people show up while intoxicated, creating an impression of their drug and substance addiction.
The Foundations Used by the U.S. Healthcare System
For a long time, people with disabilities have remained unrecognized by the public health because of the lack of health awareness in the community. However, efforts made by different healthcare systems around the world have realigned the focus of medical practitioners towards people with disabilities to reduce the high-level inequality in the U.S. and beyond. From this realization, many people with disabilities are reporting fair treatment approaches that influence the ability of health providers to focus on different issues that interfere with their perspectives towards life. Hence, the elimination of the underlying issues and the establishment of solid foundations has influenced the nature of approaches that individuals can use to accomplish their desired outcomes.
The approaches the U.S. healthcare system has used to overcome health disparities towards people with disabilities include defining the population group, elaborating the discriminatory health practices, and accounting for the population-level differences recorded in different parts of the country. From this realization, the International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF) is one of the commonly used health foundations in the U.S. health system (Krahn, Walker, & Correa-De-Araujo, 2015). However, the adoption and uptake of the health framework has been slow because of its approach that prefers social participation as opposed to the predominant medical model used in the country.
Steps that can be used to Overcome Cultural Disparities
Even though healthcare providers play an inferior role compared to the U.S. government, they can tap into their competence by creating an enabling environment where homeless individuals feel appreciated. Likewise, the healthcare providers can document the different scenarios that involve homeless population groups and use the results to guide policymakers in their decision-making process. Importantly, homeless individuals encounter structural barriers in various institutions that hinder them from seeking care on demand. From this perspective, healthcare providers can eliminate the structures that interfere with the perspectives of individuals during their interactions with other people in their surroundings.
Government institutions should create better responses to pleas from homeless people because of its ability to recognize their identity in the community. For instance, the government through its housing department can offer subsidies to homeless population groups that enable them to gain access to proper housing (Humphries & Canham, 2019). This way, the vulnerable population group can realign its focus in the community and pursue their desired objectives. Besides, the government can offer Medicaid assistance to homeless groups that enable them to recover from their underlying health issues and focus on various issues, which influence their perspectives towards life. By creating this environment, it becomes easier to accomplish the different goals that are responsible for the realization of various outcomes in the community.
Humphries, J., & Canham, S. L. (2019). Conceptualizing the shelter and housing needs and solutions of homeless older adults. Housing Studies, 1-23.
Krahn, G. L., Walker, D. K., & Correa-De-Araujo, R. (2015). Persons with disabilities as an unrecognized health disparity population. American journal of public health, 105(S2), S198-S206.
Morton, M. H., Dworsky, A., & Samuels, G. M. (2017). Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America. National Estimates. Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
van den Berk-Clark, C., & McGuire, J. (2014). Trust in Health Care Providers: factors predicting trust among homeless veterans over time. Journal of health care for the poor and underserved, 25(3), 1278.
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