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Delivering services to older persons experiencing homelessness: Providers’ perspectives of what work
Weldrick, R., Canham, S. L., Sussman, T., Walsh, C., Cormier, É., & Mahmood, A. (2022, October). Delivering services to older persons experiencing homelessness: Providers’ perspectives of what works [paper presentation]. Canadian Association on Gerontology 2022 Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting, Regina, SK, Canada.
Older people with experiences of homelessness (OPEH) tend to experience more complex health, social, and psychological issues than people experiencing homelessness at younger ages. Simultaneously, many housing resources (e.g., shelters, temporary housing) are often ill equipped to meet the needs of OPEH. As such, OPEH are often not able to age in the right place (AIRP) – that is, in a place that supports unique needs and vulnerabilities. However, several promising practices exist that deliver housing and services tailored to OPEH. To investigate the aspects of housing and shelter that are most effective in supporting OPEH, this study examines the delivery of services in three such promising practices from the perspective of service providers. Participants included a diverse mix of service providers, including case workers, program coordinators, management, and others. Findings from fifteen qualitative interviews revealed four overarching themes: 1) mechanisms of success (e.g., facilitating transitions in and out of housing); 2) program-specific barriers to providing individualized support (e.g., staff turnover); 3) double-edged swords (i.e., policies with both favorable and unfavorable consequences); and 4) shifting contexts and structures (e.g., housing market changes). Findings provide evidence to support the refinement of service delivery to OPEH by promoting AIRP. In doing so, these insights can help to elevate promising practices to the level of best practice.