The purpose of this paper is to share knowledge and observations of the Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) approach being used to engage “chronically” homeless people in the USA.
This paper describes a placement with an organisation in New York City observing how the TIC approach is being implemented across outreach, housing and support services. The author then reflects on the lessons, for the work in the UK context.
TIC empowers staff and clients to understand psychological trauma and its effects and to use this knowledge to create safe, supportive environments for all involved; improving relationships and nurturing recovery. It appears that clients use services more effectively, with staff stating that they behave more appropriately and move towards independence more quickly. Staff consider the emotional needs of the individuals they support and it was reported that they are less reliant on managers and have a higher tolerance to their clients.
TIC is an easily replicable and seemingly cost-effective way of empowering frontline staff to deliver holistic services to survivors of trauma.
Psychologically informed practice is gaining momentum within the homelessness sector in the UK, and whilst TIC has many similarities to it, this approach specifically focuses on providing a pre-therapy approach for trauma survivors to prepare them to engage appropriately with mainstream services.
Although there is no quantifiable data, it seems that the approach improves the well-being of service users and may ultimately reduce the cost in public spending of ineffective service use.
The author thanks the inspiring staff and clients of Center for Urban Community Services, New York, and Robin Johnson for his support and guidance whilst writing this paper.
Prestidge, J. (2014), "Using Trauma-Informed Care to provide therapeutic support to homeless people with complex needs: a transatlantic search for an approach to engage the “non-engaging”", Housing, Care and Support, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 208-214. https://doi.org/10.1108/HCS-09-2014-0024
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