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Keywords:

  • experience;
  • homelessness;
  • older adults;
  • agency;
  • identity

ABSTRACT

Older homeless people are likely to have additional support needs in relation to well-being and housing. This study focuses on the experiences of hostel living for older, long-term homeless men in the UK. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 10 participants. Transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. There were three main themes identified, which capture the men's concerns and the means by which they coped with the hostel environment: ‘contingent sense of well-being in the hostel’, ‘importance of connectedness to others’ and ‘balancing independence with reliance on others’. Running through all the themes was a sense that three fundamental processes were in play: threat to material safety, threat to self-identity and threat to autonomy. Psychosocial implications of this study, for those working with homeless people, might involve addressing inequities of power, maintaining continuity of self-identity and facilitating the development of a sense of connectedness. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.