For the purpose of this research paper, the research population that has been selected comprises the homeless people with ages between 18 and 21 years, who are living in Atlantic City and Camden in New Jersey. The main objective here is to conduct a needs based assessment of this homeless population in order to develop and implement a teaching plan that allows this at-risk population to improve their health and well-being.
The needs assessment procedure starts off by determining the current family situation and social support structure of the homeless youth. In this case a homeless individual has been defined as a person who has been unable to find a steady source of employment for more than 365 days, and in the last three years, has had more than four instances of homeless episodes forcing him/her to live in makeshift shelters that are not originally designed to be inhabited by human beings. At The Covenant House in Camden, and Atlantic City, the homeless youth are assessed on the basis of their interactions of their family members and the reasons why they are living away from home. This also includes identifying and documenting their emergency contact as well as details of extended family, relatives and siblings. An important part of this assessment includes understanding the level of emotional support that these homeless youths have from their family. This is mainly why the initial assessment form asks for details regarding the nature of relationship with family. This includes asking them about those family members who have been the most helpful and supportive towards them in terms of providing, financial, psychological and emotional help. It is also important to determine if these homeless and shelter less youth have a support network outside of their blood family. This is often the case because for the youth who have spent several years on the road, informal social networks often tend to develop.
The second element of the needs element involves determining the level of education that the homeless youth have acquired so far as well as obtaining information about their work history. This is important because those amongst the homeless youth who have had a basic level of education and some form of employment in the past, are less likely to succumb to the socio-economic problem that most members of this population end up suffering from.
Since both the physiological and mental health of the homeless youth is of paramount concern, establishing an accurate and comprehensive medical history is considered to be a crucial effort towards ensuring their long term health and well-being. In addition to this, it is also important to get a very clear picture of the kinds of medication and treatment that the homeless youth might have undergone in their lives. Furthermore, it is not just their physical health that needs to be taken into account in order to identify the best possible teaching methodologies to provide the maximum benefit to them. Their psychological health assessment and needs also need to be looked into. This is primarily because a review of existing literature on the subject has highlighted that remaining homeless for more than three years contributes to the deteriorating psychological conditions of people.
Closely related to their present health conditions, is their involvement with drugs and alcohol. As mentioned above, living as a homeless young person increases the likelihood of these individuals developing a substance abuse problem. It is not sufficient only to know if there is a drug and alcohol issue involved. Equally important is going deeper into their family background to see if this problem has a point of origin elsewhere amongst their family. In my opinion, it is crucial to know if the homeless youth who are diagnosed with a substance abuse problem are also questioned about the fact if they have previously been admitted to a rehabilitation program.
Once a personal, family and medical profile needs assessment has been completed, the next logical step is analyzing the legal standing of these homeless youth. Previous research articles complied and published for the homeless population identify an extremely strong relationship between the incidence of living an abandoned life on the road and a strong history of crime and violence.
Special Considerations and Objectives
Once the needs assessment process has been completed, the next logical step is to consider how the questions identified so far can best be addressed, keeping in view the special needs of this population. Both the teaching strategies that are used in the future to educate the homeless youth in New Jersey, as well as the written content material that is provided to them, will depend in large part on the family situation of the homeless. One of the foremost objectives of this Community Health Project is to create a scenario in which a permanent living shelter is provided to the homeless youth. Social psychologists and welfare workers agree on the fact that the cases in which homeless teenagers are reunited with their families are likely to have the most positive result from the teaching plan. The situation and needs of the homeless population become slightly more complicated when there is a chance that sexual or physical abuse also features in the background of the homeless youth. The important objective here is to establish if psychological counselling can prove to be beneficial for the rehabilitation of the homeless youth. The extent to which these teenagers will benefit from the teaching program also depends on their own sense of self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence.
The efficacy of the teaching program is also largely dependent on the literacy level of the population segment. The level of awareness and education has also been found to be directly correlated with the physical health, the psychological well-being and the emotional health of the homeless. In instances where homeless teenagers have a basic level of literacy and memories of going to school, they were found to be more open to receiving help so that they are able to recover from the existing problem. Again, education plays a huge role in determining how willing homeless people between the ages of 18 and 21 are in getting out from a life of crime they may have been forced into due to circumstances. Those who are more literate can be more easily convinced through the teaching program to seek out alternative career choices and even look towards building on their existing literacy level.
Last, but definitely not the least, once the needs assessment has been concluded, and the findings discussed, analyzed and interpreted, the last part of this stage is to formulate a plan of action with each research subject. This primarily involves getting the homeless teenagers themselves to identify and seek out about the positive that they have in their lives at this point in time. Focusing on the potential strength and opportunities will help them realize that it is not necessary for them to continue living their life as they were before today.
The content and teaching strategies that will be utilized for this community health project will depend to a large extent on the in person interactions and discussions between the social health workers and the homeless youth. Not just the teaching strategies but the content to be used will also be impacted by these communications. The nature of the content will depend on the assessments of the health workers working with this population with regards to their family situation, psychological mindsets as well as their own personal objectives on how to improve their situation in life. For instance, an individual with the basic level of schooling who has been living on the streets since the last several years might be looking for an opportunity to pursue higher education in order to turn around his/her life. In such a scenario, providing opportunities of enrolling in educational institutions becomes an extremely effective strategy to help elevate the pain and suffering of the homeless youth.
Also forming an important part of the teaching methodology is the individual’s perception regarding the help that is being provided. A classic example to illustrate this point is the attitude of a homeless teenager who has been diagnosed with a chronic drug and alcohol issue. The openness of a homeless young person towards being admitted to rehab, willingness to follow instructions and take guidance from cancellers as well as their intention to work hard in order to improve their situation in life thus far.
The Bloom’s Taxonomy Model is considered to be one of the most effective tools to convey teachings in a community health care setting. Bloom’s pyramid starts by focusing on recalling facts, memorizing the most basic concepts and instructions and repeatedly stating a particular lesson (Remember). In the case of this community health project, the homeless youth must first be made to understand the risk factors that are likely to cause them the most harm and then, make them see and repeat how their behavior needs to change. Moving up the pyramid, one comes to the stage to Understanding in which people are made to understand the consequences of behaviors and actions, which in turn makes it more likely for these behavioral changes to be implemented. For instance, a homeless youth is first informed about the long term health consequences of continuing substance abuse. Once this message has been conveyed, the next step is to make them realize the potential harms of not correcting their existing problem. It is only when this understanding develops that the homeless youth will be motivated to change their behavior.
The next two steps up relate to analyzing and evaluating a particular decision. In the context of a community welfare health project, this would imply acquiring and understanding about how the behavioral changes that have been implemented so far have the potential to benefit the homeless youth. It is only when all of these stages have been successfully navigated that the tip of the pyramid is reached and we come to the point of Creation. This is the point in which a homeless individual comes to the realization that by completely turning around his/her life, there is a chance to create a new and improved life.
Evaluation of Strategies
The evaluation of the teaching strategies used will have to be a combination of what the homeless youth want and what the community health project worker considers to be crucial and indispensable to bring about real change. For instance, whether or not a mentally ill homeless youth signs up for psychological counselling is an individual’s decision. However, if the social health worker, after analyzing the case and situation, feels that counselling is crucial for the mental health of a particular research subject, then mandatory counselling may often be recommended.
The same condition applies to the situation in which a homeless youth may have a history of violence and criminal activities. In an ideal case scenario, the Covenant House will arrange for a legal attorney to represent a homeless youth in a case, however, whether or not an individual chooses to follow the legal recommendations or not, is an individual’s decision. Therefore, the relative success or failure of the community health project for the homeless youth in Camden and Atlantic City in New Jersey will depend to a large degree on the interactions between the population members and the social workers at the Covenant House.
What is important to be understood here is that given the ages of the research subjects, the social workers are legally bound to follow their decisions, however, in certain situations ethical and social concerns far outweigh the rules and legalities.
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