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, 19 (3), 250-5

Extreme Weather-Related Health Needs of People Who Are Homeless

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Extreme Weather-Related Health Needs of People Who Are Homeless

Lynette Cusack et al. Aust J Prim Health.

Abstract

To identify the extreme weather-related health needs of homeless people and the response by homeless service providers in Adelaide, South Australia, a five-phased qualitative interpretive study was undertaken. (1) Literature review, followed by semi-structured interviews with 25 homeless people to ascertain health needs during extreme weather events. (2) Identification of homeless services. (3) Semi-structured interviews with 16 homeless service providers regarding their response to the health needs of homeless people at times of extreme weather. (4) Gap analysis. (5) Suggestions for policy and planning. People experiencing homelessness describe adverse health impacts more from extreme cold, than extreme hot weather. They considered their health suffered more, because of wet bedding, clothes and shoes. They felt more depressed and less able to keep themselves well during cold, wet winters. However, homeless service providers were more focussed on planning for extra service responses during times of extreme heat rather than extreme cold. Even though a city may be considered to have a temperate climate with a history of very hot summers, primary homeless populations have health needs during winter months. The experiences and needs of homeless people should be considered in extreme weather policy and when planning responses.

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