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A qualitative exploration of older people’s lived experiences of homelessness and memory problems – stakeholder perspectives

Rapaport, Penny, Kidd, Garrett, Jeraldo, Rosario Espinoza, Mason, Ava, Knapp, Martin ORCID: 0000-0003-1427-0215, Manthorpe, Jill, Shulman, Caroline and Livingston, Gill (2023) A qualitative exploration of older people’s lived experiences of homelessness and memory problems – stakeholder perspectives. BMC Geriatrics, 23 (1). p. 556. ISSN 1471-2318

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Identification Number: 10.1186/s12877-023-04250-0


Background: The numbers of older people experiencing both homelessness and memory problems are growing, yet their complex health, housing and care needs remain undelineated and unmet. There is a critical gap in understanding what can improve the care, support and experiences of this group. In this qualitative study we explore how stakeholders understand memory problems among older people in the context of homelessness and consider what they judge gets in the way of achieving positive outcomes. Method: We conducted reflexive thematic analysis of qualitative interviews (n = 49) using a semi-structured topic guide, with 17 older people (aged ≥ 50 years) experiencing memory problems and homelessness, 15 hostel staff and managers, and 17 health, housing and social care practitioners. We recruited participants from six homelessness hostels, one specialist care home and National Health and Local Authority Services in England. Results: We identified four overarching themes. The population is not taken seriously; multiple causes are hard to disentangle; risk of exploitation and vulnerability; and (dis)connection and social isolation. The transience and lack of stability associated with homelessness intensified the disorienting nature of memory and cognitive impairment, and those providing direct and indirect support required flexibility and persistence, with staff moving beyond traditional roles to advocate, provide care and safeguard individuals. Memory problems were perceived by frontline staff and older people to be overlooked, misinterpreted, and misattributed as being caused by alcohol use, resulting in pervasive barriers to achieving positive and desired outcomes. Conclusions: Efforts to meet the needs of older people living with memory problems and experiencing homelessness and future interventions must reflect the complexity of their lives, often in the context of long-term alcohol use and current service provision and we make suggestions as to what could be done to improve the situation.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s)
Divisions: Personal Social Services Research Unit
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
H Social Sciences
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2023 10:09
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2024 18:36

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