There are several debates about the average life expectancy of a rough sleeper but what are the real issues affecting their health.
Maintaining general good health on the streets can be difficult, as there is little chance to rest in order to recover from an illness. Health issues can creep up slowly in the form of diabetes (which is often hard to recognise at first by an individual) hep B or C, or HIV. Due to the nature of services provided it may not always be possible to get healthy and nutritional food, so inevitably overall health is affected.
Accessing medical services should not be too hard as most areas with a recognised homeless population should provide suitable support services. These may include drop in sessions at a day centre, hostel, or in some cases, a designated surgery for homeless clients.
Managing medication can be tricky, especially if there is nowhere to store it. Many day centres dislike handling or storing medication and GP surgeries are reluctant to provide daily prescriptions. Depending on the medication, it can be very valuable on the streets and can quickly be stolen.
Whilst not all rough sleepers will experience these problems, Outreach Workers need to be aware of these issues and thoroughly asses rough sleepers in order to identify appropriate support services.
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