Caring for Vulnerable Populations

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    I am a nursing student taking an introductory class to community health nursing. This week, we are learning about the care of vulnerable populations, specifically the homeless population. I am interested in hearing from nurses in the U.S. and other countries regarding this topic.


    1. How do community health nurses in your country help meet the needs of vulnerable populations (ie. the homeless population)?


    2. Does the type of health system in place in your country seem to make a difference in the way vulnerable populations are cared for?


    If you could please include your country of origin it would be most appreciated! Thank you in advance for your response.
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    Hi there,
    I am not a nurse (or a nursing student yet) but I work in a homeless shelter and my experiences there are a contributing factor to why I want to become a nurse.
    I live in Ontario, Canada. My city has a population of about 250 000 so it does not have an outreach nurse program like many larger cities in Canada. There are two amazing Canadian documentaries about nurses who work with street involved/homeless populations.

    One is called "Bevel Up: Drugs, Users and Outreach Nursing". It focuses on the Street Nurse program in Vancouver, BC. However, it is the extras on the DVD that are really worthwhile. They include copious interviews with nurses, other health professionals, peer helpers and patients. The film focuses on methods of harm reduction. Vancouver is a world leader in the harm reduction approach to drug use and opened the first legal supervised injection site in North America.
    Another film is "Street Nurse". It is about Cathy Crowe, a Toronto-based outreach nurse and anti-poverty activist. The film has a different focus than "Bevel Up" and focuses more on Cathy Crowe's personal narrative and activist organizing than outreach nursing practice.

    In the shelter that I work in, there is a psychiatric nurse who visits every week to see residents that have reported mental health issues to their case-workers. There is also a community health centre that offers and "ID clinic" to help people that have lost their ID get their Ontario Health Insurance Plan card so that they can use the clinic's services.

    However, most communities the size of mine do not offer these services. The Canadian health system still has substantial problems when it comes to serving vulnerable populations, especially the homeless. Often homeless people who have lost their ID have to go to the emergency room for minor issues when they could have gone to a clinic.

    Furthermore, Canada faces many challenges when it comes to providing health care professionals, especially nurses, to First Nations and Inuit people, especially those on remote and norther reserve communities.

    However, the Northwest Territories has implemented a community health nurse development program to help address this problem in that territory.
    here is a link: http://www.hr.gov.nt.ca/CHN/
    If you want more info on that subject, you could probably go to the National Aboriginal Health Organization's website: www.naho.ca


    Hope that was helpful!

    Kendra


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