• collaboration;
  • client-centered care;
  • homeless;
  • mental illness;
  • nurse-managed clinic;
  • respect

The goal of this article is to demystify the process that healthcare providers must follow when working with homeless patients who sustain injuries or exhibit illnesses that necessitate rehabilitation care. Observations made over a period of more than 12 years at an inner-city medical/psychiatric nurse-managed free clinic that delivers cutting-edge services and educates multidisciplinary students to care for disenfranchised populations led the author to several conclusions: homeless people frequently lose their identity as individuals when facing healthcare providers; previous negative perceptions of homelessness can turn positive when care providers meet these patients on a person-to-person level; the concept of health and rehabilitation must be clearly understood in the same way by both providers and patients for nursing goals to be realistic and achievable; and a collaborative relationship must be formed between nurses and patients.