There are few studies on the homeless and their preparation for end-of-life care. However, a study by the Center for Bioethics at the University of Minnesota has some convincing results that homeless people do care about completing Advance Directives. The research involved fifty-nine homeless people recruited from drop-in centers. Half were given written instructions to complete Advance Directives in a self-guided manner. Others were given the same directions with guidance in completing them.
The overall completion rate was 44%. A higher completion rate of 59% was earned by those who received guidance in completing the forms. The rate of completion for the self-guided group was 30%. Among all participants who completed their Advance Directive forms, there was a significant decrease in the frequency of worry about death from 50% to 12.5%. Those who filled out the Advance Directive forms increased their plans to write down their end-of-life wishes (56% to 100%) and plans to discuss their related wishes with someone (63% to 94%).
This research concludes that homeless people can appreciate being afforded the opportunity to complete Advance Directives. Although some will complete the forms without help, when time is taken to assist them, they can be especially successful in participating in their end-of-life preparations.
You can read more here about this research from the “Journal of General Internal Medicine.”
This video describes St. Michael’s Nazareth House, where hospice and palliative care are provided for terminally and seriously ill homeless patients.
Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
“Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog”