Nursing Interventions with the Homeless

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Nursing Interventions with the Homeless

A new public health crisis

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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Nursing interventions can make a real difference. Two recent local efforts spotlight how nurses can affect populations that others might disregard.

Helping Homeless Veterans

Nurses play an integral role in the Veterans Administration of Greater Los Angles Healthcare System’s efforts to help homeless veterans. According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, about 44 percent of the nation’s homeless veterans — some 12,000 — are in California, more than half of those on the streets of Los Angeles. Many of those veterans suffer a multitude of problems, including medical and psychiatric conditions and substance abuse.

The VA’s multidisciplinary team offers basic nursing care literally on the street and with time has been able to move significant numbers of homeless veterans into housing. However, the need remains great, so local nurses will remain in the trenches and on the front lines.

Homeless Youth

A recent study by researchers from UCLA School of Nursing that found that nursing interventions can significantly reduce substance abuse among homeless youths. The study involved 154 young people in Santa Monica who were regularly using drugs. All of the participants had histories that included foster care, limited education and poor support systems.

The nurse-led program comprised three group sessions focusing on disease transmission, vaccinations and training in self-management. The study found that after six months, alcohol use within the group had decreased 24 percent and marijuana use had fallen by 17. Additional reductions were noted in use of cocaine (15 percent), methamphetamine (18 percent) and hallucinogens (20 percent). 


Photo above: The Hollywood Homeless Youth Partnership calls Los Angeles the “homeless capital of America.”

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