Homeless veterans have complex needs for nursing centers to address

Research highlights nursing center resident characteristics that may have implications for staff caring for veterans who were homeless before admission. These residents differ in important ways from veterans who were not homeless before admission.

The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society paper was led by Dr. Jim Rudolph (pictured), a researcher in the Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research and at the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Rudolph and his team used national data to identify veterans admitted to community-based nursing centers between 2010 and 2016, and then examined the association between housing status and various measures. Compared to veterans who weren’t homeless, they found that veterans homeless in the year before admission were younger, more likely to have diagnoses for alcohol abuse, drug abuse, mental health conditions, dementia, liver disease, lung disease, and trimorbidity (co-occurring substance abuse, mental illness, and physical illness). They were also more likely to be admitted from the hospital and to become long-stay residents, but less likely to die in the facility.

According to the researchers, these findings attest to the importance of assessing veterans’ housing status to help provide linkages with existing social services.