Impact of multiple moves on men with complex needs
What impact does moving multiple times between services have on men with complex needs?
Coral Westaway, of the University of Hertfordshire, writes of their recent study and explains the key findings.
Last year, we published our research on the impact of multiple moves around homelessness services. We wanted to develop a greater understanding so interviewed six men to learn of their experiences and support the development of good practice. Our study identified four main themes in the experiences of the men; hope, help, identity and intimacy.
The study highlighted the interpersonal nature of hope. Previous research has already shown that a compassionate relationship with someone else helps to facilitate hope and growth.
Our study built on this. It also identified the challenges of holding on to the idea of hope yourself. We found that hope was particularly fragile for these men who had moved within projects. Consequently, staff and services may need to hold onto hope and the belief that things can improve, when this is too challenging for their clients.
The men spoke about the transitional nature of help and the high turnover of staff. They spoke of feeling like a ‘broken record’ as they were required to tell their stories time and time again.
“I’m not like a broken record, I’m not explaining it all again. It’s f*****g awful [when someone new starts]…it means I’ve got to go through it all…you put your trust in people and that and then when they disappear I get really paranoid as well. I mean ... there are so many things like I’ve told drug workers - it’s like really like, heavy stuff.”
This was particularly hard for people who have histories of trauma and loss.
The men spoke of experiences that dehumanised them and felt negative perceptions of others experiencing complex needs influenced the treatment and support they received. Experiences of services as critical contributed to their ‘disengagement’ and to long-term homelessness. However, positive experiences with staff were highlighted as helpful and the re-humanising potential of relationships was stressed.
“Most of them yeah they really, do actually give a shit! Like my key worker, it was his day off and he was home with his kids, he’s phoning from his home on my birthday to wish me happy birthday and to see what I was doing.”
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