Description of health seeking behaviours and experiences of homeless people in South Central Durban, South Africa.
Wentzel, Dorien Lesley.
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The study aimed to describe the health seeking behaviours and experiences of homeless people in South Central Durban. Homelessness is a broad and complex term that affects many people in South Africa. Homelessness inevitably causes serious health problems, conditions that are closely associated with poverty. Health problems experienced by homeless people are numerous and multifaceted. Homelessness is a complex issue that not only damages both physical and mental health, but also contributes to the spread of disease to the non-homeless (National Health Care for the Homeless Council, 2008:1). Drawing on interviews with homeless participants and healthcare workers, this study depicted the experiences, and the observed, felt and perceived needs of homeless people in accessing healthcare. The study reveals why, when and where homeless people access healthcare and the factors facilitating and hindering their access to healthcare. The researcher primarily used a qualitative methodology with a small quantitative component. The qualitative component comprised one on one in-depth interview. The quantitative component comprised a record review showing frequency distribution of health problems experienced by homeless people presenting at the Kathleen Voysey clinic. The findings highlight the unique lived experiences which include health problems, basic needs, accommodation, safety and security, community networks, access to pensions and grants. Findings show that homeless people are accessing healthcare facilities however there are mixed responses as to the service that they have received. A number of recommendations were suggested by both homeless participants and healthcare workers for policy makers, healthcare services, and homeless people and for future research regarding the care of homeless people.