The Homeless Problem of Orlando, Florida
Most of the inhabitants have mental and physical disabilities that predispose them to injuries and illnesses than the healthy population. A large number of Orlando residents live in the streets, homeless camps, motels and unsheltered places. Although, health care for these people needs to be addressed effectively, it remains a big challenge. Measures to prevent the problem need to be put into place and should involve a collective responsibility by the whole community. For example, provision of permanent housing for the homeless people by the government and educating members could prove timely in combating the menace. Homelessness is a major problem in Orlando, Florida and therefore, nursing practice interventions such as education and giving preventive care services would be critical to addressing the challenge.
Background and Statistics
Despite its variation in distribution, homelessness is not selective. It can affect anyone irrespective of one’s current social status. Risks associated with this condition are poverty, job loss, unemployment, family crisis, domestic and sexual violence (MacEgan, 2014). Homelessness has negative impacts on its victim’s health. This is due to the reduced access to medical and preventive care. The homeless people enquire for medical attention at a stage when their condition is at an advanced process, which leads to longer hospitalization.
According to the Homeless Services Network spokesperson Cathy Jackson, there are 10,000 homeless adults in Florida and double the number when children are included (MacEgan, 2014). Furthermore, a study done by the federal government ranks Florida first for chronically homeless people (Kavanagh, 2014). Despite the continued efforts to reduce the number of homeless people in the United States, the number is increasing in Florida.
Because of the alarming statistics, there is a need to prevent homelessness. First, there is an urgent requirement for permanent housing and rehabilitation programs. MacEgan (2014) argues that rehabilitating homeless individuals is cheaper than keeping them in the unsheltered places and arresting them. He reports that the government spends 31,000 US dollars on each homeless person per annum to cater for their medical care and pay the law enforcement bodies. This figure is more expensive as compared to the 10,000 US dollars assigned to the permanent supervisors after being rehabilitated. It is, therefore, important to regulate the cost of acquiring housing services and formulating policies that favor the poor.
Another alternative would be by enacting and fully fund community-based programs. Churches and social groups should work together with the medical professionals and the government to prevent homelessness. Pharmaceutical companies can contribute to the solution by donating drugs to be used in the homeless clinics. Improved coordination between the community programs and medical services such as immunization and preventive education need to be put in place. The society can also be educated on the importance of avoiding drugs and alcohol abuse that are key triggers to the risk of homelessness (Wright, 2011). This will reduce unemployment cases in the society.
The government also has a fundamental role in tackling homelessness in Orlando. Its main objective should be to increase funding for these community-based programs (Wright, 2011). Research directed towards the prevention of homelessness needs to be fully supported and funded. Moreover, it should provide disability benefits for the homeless people who are unable to work. In addition, the creation of employment opportunities for all people is necessary to avoid this issue. The government should provide professional protection and coverage benefits for the people who volunteer to offer services to the homeless such as the nurses (Wright, 2011).
Recommendations for Nursing Practice
Medical personnel have a fundamental responsibility in addressing homeless in Orlando. The nurses should identify the patients who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless within their practice and identify ways of helping them. They can examine their living standards, nutrition, and exposure to violence and substance abuse and assist them in getting services that are important to them. Medical caregivers can also educate victims on the available community-based programs such as mental health and domestic violence services. This way, the people get to know where they can get the services and how important they are to them and thus get transformed to become useful people in the society.
Nurses and other healthcare providers can also provide preventive and curative health care to the homeless. The nurses may volunteer to work with them and educate those who are affected on the important health issues such as immunization and prevention of communicable diseases such as tuberculosis. The healthcare providers can alternatively enlighten sufferers on the need to adhere to medications. Follow-up measures on these patients are crucial, and the nurses should ensure that those under medical care are followed up through regular.
Finally, nurses should advocate for programs and measures that address homelessness. Such initiatives include research, case management, and mental health services. The most crucial of these is the increased funding for permanent housing to cater for homeless individuals. They may also push for primary and preventive care. Homeless people need not to seek medication in their emergency state, but it should be made available to them whenever they need it.
The problem of being homeless in Florida has increased despite the measures put in place. Collective responsibility seems to be the most realistic and feasible way of tackling the issue. The government, the health care providers, and the society should stand together to say no to homelessness in Florida. The nurses are especially more responsible in tackling the problem in Orlando because despite being in a position to educate victims, they can provide them timely medical care. When all these are implemented, one can only hope that the major challenge in Florida will have been addressed.