Background With limited resources and no stable accommodation, people who are homeless arguably have greater need of palliative care support than the rest of society when they face the end of life. However, they consistently fail to access palliative care services (Care Quality Commission, 2016) and while there is much in the literature surrounding the barriers to appropriate health care (Hudson et al., 2016), their specific needs and wishes remain poorly understood by health care professionals (Care Quality Commission, 2016). This study aims to bridge the gap in knowledge.
The Research Question The central question of this study is therefore; ‘What matters most to homeless people in the UK as they consider end of life?’ Only when the answers to this important question are understood, will the problem of homeless people dying without adequate support and with very little dignity or choice begin to be addressed.
Aim of Study The aim or purpose of this interpretive phenomenological study is therefore to explore the end of life priorities of a sample of homeless adults in the United Kingdom.
Methodology This qualitative PhD project is a phenomenological study underpinned by the philosophy of French phenomenologist, Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Data are being collected through in-depth, semi-structured, audio-recorded 1:1 interviews with homeless adults across several UK counties. Interviews are taking place at staffed centres providing services for older homeless adults. Data are being analysed iteratively using thematic analysis.
Results This PhD is a work in progress. Early findings will be shared.
Conclusion It is not yet possible to draw full conclusions from preliminary data. However, it is hoped that a deeper understanding of preferences and priorities will assist commissioners and healthcare professionals to plan and provide relevant palliative care services that genuinely meet the needs of the dying homeless.
The Florence Nightingale Foundation have part-funded this research.
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