Exploring the Lived Experience of Homelessness from an Occupational Perspective

Miranda Cunningham, Anita Slade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
1792 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Working in homelessness is a growing area of practice for occupational therapists, however, there is limited literature on the lived experiences of homelessness and occupational engagement

Study aim: To explore the lived experience of homeless men in relation to how they engaged in day-to-day occupations when sleeping rough or hostel dwelling

Methods: Data were gathered from five men residing in a homeless hostel in the UK. Data collection included semi-structured interviews and photographic diaries. Data were analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Results: Participants described their experiences of occupational engagement whilst sleeping on the streets which included engaging in survival occupations, the significance of apparently ordinary occupations and moving beyond survival occupations. The homeless hostel provided opportunities for occupational engagement that the men perceived in an idiosyncratic manner. The men described benefits of engaging in novel occupations and reengaging in known occupations. Occupational injustices were a common theme that occurred throughout participants experiences

Conclusion: This study has highlighted the diversity of occupational engagement for ‘roofless’ or ‘houseless’ participants and how different individuals experience occupational adaption

Significance: This study has furthered understandings of the concept of ‘survival occupations’ and the importance of community resources to facilitate occupational engagement whilst homeless.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalScandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2017


  • daily occupations
  • homeless men
  • survival occupations
  • occupational justice
  • occupational deprivation
  • occupational adaptation
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis


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