The major goal of the Care for the Homeless Health Education Program is to provide health information to homeless individuals and families in a clear, concise, culturally competent manner to promote client understanding, motivation, empowerment, and positive health behavior change.
This goal is accomplished using a range of methods drawn from the fields of health education and social work. All Care for the Homeless staff strive to make use of "teachable moments," by informally providing health information and supportive counseling when clients have communicated their openness to such an exchange. Our Health Education Program takes this exchange one step further, enhancing the provision of health information by coordinating more formal group interventions and individual counseling sessions dealing with a range of health topics relevant to our clients' needs. Health educators provide education and support around a diverse range of topics such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, tuberculosis, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, exercise, pregnancy, prostate health, cancer, smoking, alcohol and other drug use, stress management, and oral health, to name a few.
Group interventions are based upon a formal needs assessment performed at each homeless site. This needs assessment process involves all relevant stakeholders, including social service staff, administrative staff, medical staff, and most importantly, the clients themselves. Results of the needs assessment are combined with a careful review of health education research, theoretical models, and the expertise, instincts, and field experience of health education staff to design and implement programs that are tailored to the specific needs of the clients served by each outreach site.
This tailored, yet flexible approach reaches a cross-section of the homeless population served by our health teams, including single adult men and women, senior citizens, young mothers and fathers, teenagers at risk, drug users, the mentally ill, and others.