Exploring Harm Reduction in Supportive Housing for Formerly Homeless Older Adults

Authors

  • Lara L. Nixon University of Calgary
  • Victoria F. Burns University of Calgary

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5770/cgj.25.551

Keywords:

homelessness, older adults, harm reduction, supportive housing

Abstract

Background

Exclusionary care policy contributes to the growing number of older adults experiencing homelessness and complex health challenges including substance misuse. The aim of this study was to examine how harm reduction policy and practices are experienced and enacted for older adults with homeless histories and care staff in congregate supportive housing.

Methods

Drawing on harm reduction (HR) principles, Rhodes’ risk environment framework, and 15 semi-structured interviews (six residents, nine staff) at a 70-bed supportive housing facility in Western Canada, this qualitative constructivist grounded theory study aimed to determine: How is harm reduction experienced and enacted from the perspectives of older adults and their care staff?

Results

HR policy and practices helped residents to feel respected and a sense of belonging, due largely to staff’s understanding of structural vulnerability related to homelessness and their efforts to earn and maintain residents’ trust. Physical and program structures in the facility combined with the social environment to mitigate harms due to substance- and nonsubstance-related risk behaviours.

Conclusion

HR policy and practices in supportive living empower care providers and older adults to work together to improve housing and health stability. Wider adoption of HR approaches is needed to meet the needs of a growing number of older people experiencing homelessness and substance use challenges.

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Published

2022-09-02

How to Cite

1.
Nixon LL, Burns V. Exploring Harm Reduction in Supportive Housing for Formerly Homeless Older Adults. Can Geriatr J [Internet]. 2022 Sep. 2 [cited 2022 Oct. 3];25(3):285-94. Available from: https://cgjonline.ca/index.php/cgj/article/view/551

Issue

Section

Original Research