Homeless man lying on the bench. (File photo)

Homeless man lying on the bench. (File photo)

UBCO researchers examine pandemic responses, effects on homeless population

The goal of the group is to help public health officials formulate pandemic response for homeless

Pandemic guidelines designed to keep people safe often overlook homeless populations, which is why UBC Okanagan researchers are looking at strategies that could help this population as well.

UBCO School of Social Work director John Graham says his team has been working on formulating strategies to help people experiencing homelessness. But when COVID-19 came around, they started to assess how the current pandemic is affecting transient residents.

Graham’s team started looking at publications dating back to 1984, examining how homeless populations were impacted by other contagious diseases like tuberculosis, H1N1 and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

He said the goal of the team’s study is to help public health agencies and organizations to formulate a pandemic response to help homeless populations.

“Those experiencing homelessness do not fare well in terms of general health and this risk rises during public health outbreaks,” Graham said.

“Research findings have shown that homeless people under the age of 65 have a mortality rate five to 10 times higher compared to the general population.”

He said before their research started, no one really knew how pandemic guidelines historically impacted services for those experiencing homelessness.

Graham said we have to remember public health officials don’t always take into account all populations when they make recommendations.

READ MORE: B.C. set to lay out restart road map as COVID-19 cases slow, vaccinations increase

“Some of the methods of response are not easily transferable to the homeless populations — that’s partially because of their transient nature,” he said.

“But it is not unusual for homeless individuals to have a number of underlying illnesses, which could leave them more susceptible to virus obtainment, transmission and mortality.”

Jordan Babando is a researcher with Graham’s team. He said there are six key themes that affect the homeless: education and outreach, the structure of services provided, screening and contact tracing, transmission and prevention strategies, shelter protocols and treatment, adherence and vaccination.

“Those experiencing homelessness often live in low-capacity shelters or transient locations that likely have no access to hygienic resources,” he said.

“This places them at increased risk of obtaining and spreading viruses in comparison to the general population.”

He added that overcrowded shelters, poor ventilation and clients who are already predisposed to infection increase the risk and complicate detection and tracing procedures.

Graham said we need to act quickly when it comes to helping those experiencing homelessness.

“COVID-19 is extraordinarily significant for all of us, but most especially our vulnerable people. We hope these findings will contribute further to the dialogue to help end homelessness,” he said.

READ MORE: Biden signs bill opening door for Alaska cruises to resume, bypassing B.C. ports


@twilamam
twila.amato@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

The City of Vernon is asking the Vernon Elks to come back with more information regarding their request for a financial or in-kind donation. (Google Maps)
Zero funding for Vernon Elks club

Once-in-100-years grant denied after back and forth with city for support

(Big White Ski Resort/Contributed)
Big White’s big clean-up: Large turnout for post-melt mountain tidy

More than 165 people showed up to help gather the litter left behind from the winter season

A conceptual design of Vernon’s new Active Living Centre, which will go to referendum Oct. 15, 2022. (Rendering)
Active living centre 2022 referendum planned in Vernon

City hoping to get Coldstream and Areas B and C back on board

Vernon’s historic Towne Cinema, opened at its current 30th Avenue location as a dance hall in 1929 and was converted to a movie theatre in 1938. (GoFundMe photo)
Let the show go on: $100,000 raised for Vernon Towne Cinema

The Okanagan Screen Arts Society plans on reopening of the historic cinema after Labour Day

(City of Vernon)
People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Most Read