Provision of services to persons experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative study on the perspectives of homelessness service providers

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Abstract

This study aimed to explore the perspectives of homelessness service providers on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on service provision, barriers encountered and learning for the future. Semi-structured online interviews were conducted with homelessness service providers (n = 15) identified through the network of homelessness services operating within the United Kingdom. Data were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically using framework technique. Six key themes were identified including the impact of the pandemic on health and well-being of persons experiencing homelessness (PEH); the changing needs of service users during the pandemic; impact of emergency provision of housing support on services offered; service adaptations; sustainability of services and learnings from the pandemic. Participants described that being able to offer accommodation through government schemes provided protection to PEH through ‘wrap-around support’. The pandemic was deemed to have precipitated change and developed resilience in some services. However, lack of resources, donations and sponsors during the pandemic constrained the services forcing many to close or offer reduced services. Reduced face-to-face contact with PEH and lack of ability to offer skills sessions led to the exacerbation of mental health concerns amongst clients. The pandemic was also identified to have encouraged positive relationship building between clients and service providers, better communications between service providers and effective housing of PEH. There is a need to address the barriers, sustain the positive learnings and enable organisations and PEH to adapt to the transition when transient and emergency support from the government and local councils ends.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Early online date19 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • homeless persons
  • homelessness
  • homelessness services
  • pandemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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