This episode explores providing safe, compassionate care to unhoused and precariously housed patients. It features Dr. Saroo Sharda, CPSO medical advisor and EDI lead, in conversation with Dr. Claire Bodkin, family physician and addictions medicine specialist and Marcie McIlveen, program director of the Hamilton Social Medicine Response Team (HAMSMaRT).
Dr. Bodkin and Marcie discuss their work, providing safe opioid supply and support to people who are living with addictions and substance use in addition to facing challenges with housing and shelter. They speak candidly about:
- how being unhoused or precariously housed limits patients’ ability to access care;
- the power of the language that healthcare providers use when dealing with patients who are deprived of housing; and
- the impact of being unhoused on a person’s life expectancy and overall quality of life.
The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness estimates that an average of 235,000 people in Canada experience one of the many types of homelessness each year. Being unhoused has a direct impact on a person’s health. According to a Hamilton-based study co-led by Dr. Bodkin, the average age of a person who died in precarious housing conditions in 2023 was 38. The city’s average life expectancy is 81 years.
Content warning: The subject matter of this episode may be challenging for some listeners, especially if they have experienced mental health challenges or addictions. CPSO has included resources on the episode page to support those who are struggling.