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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”

Joanne Prestidge (Front line homelessness worker and an Independent Researcher, based at London, UK)

Housing, Care and Support

ISSN: 1460-8790

Article publication date: 9 December 2014

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Research limitations/implications

TIC is an easily replicable and seemingly cost-effective way of empowering frontline staff to deliver holistic services to survivors of trauma.

Practical implications

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.

Originality/value

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.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

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.

Citation

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

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited