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Summer Planning Toolkit modules

Module 2: Caring for vulnerable populations

People who experience homelessness

People who experience homelessness

People who experience homelessness have diverse experiences. They may be:

  • sleeping outdoors or in improvised shelter
  • sleeping in a homeless shelter or boarding house
  • living in supported accommodation
  • living in crowded conditions
  • staying with friends, relatives or acquaintances.

Extreme weather can exacerbate the issues faced by people experiencing homelessness as they may have limited economic, social and community resources needed to prepare for, evacuate, and recover from a natural disaster or emergency.

Emergencies may also have a greater impact on a person who is homeless and their ability to access health care, social security and other governmental supports, particularly in the context of greater physical and mental stressors. Their ability to prepare for emergencies (including buying food, seeking shelter, ensuring warm clothes and bedding etc.) may be impacted by lack of adequate funds to purchase these goods and services 11

GPs should also be alert for patients who were previously in secure housing but have become homeless due to an emergency and who may not articulate this during consultations.