From pillar to post: homeless women's experiences of social care

Cameron A, Abrahams H, Morgan K, Williamson E, Henry L

Health and Social Care in the Community 2016, 24, 3: 345—352

Available online 26 Feb 2015

Abstract

This paper reports findings from a longitudinal study of homeless women. Thirty-eight women were recruited with a retention rate of 58% over three rounds of interviews. Interviews explored specific events in women’s lives, their current living arrangements and how their experiences and needs, including for social care, changed over time. Data were analysed thematically using a priori codes. Women reported a range of complex issues, consistent with experiences of deep social exclusion and received support from both statutory and voluntary agencies. Although women appreciated the support they received, many reported that services were fragmented and rarely personalised to their needs.

What is known about this topic
•The causes of homelessness are multi-faceted and impact differently on men and women.
•Social care services for homeless people are provided by a range of agencies from across the statutory and non-statutory sectors.

What this paper adds
•Many women were supported by multiple key workers, each based in separate agencies.
•Over the course of this longitudinal study, women revealed how budget cuts intensified the fragmented nature of services.
•There were mixed views about the benefits of counselling. Group sessions were reported to be intimidating and unproductive, particularly when men were present.