People with severe mental illness (SMI) living in supported housing (SH) struggle in everyday life and we currently lack a comprehensive body of knowledge concerning how the residents experience their day. This paper aimed to gain knowledge about how people with SMI describe a day in SH in Sweden, in particular the activities they most frequently engage in and how they experience what they do in or outside their home. Furthermore, it is important to gain knowledge of which activities motivate residents to leave the housing facility and to participate in the community. This new knowledge can help staff to encourage a recovery process among the residents.
One hundred thirty-three people living in SH completed a time-use diary and a mixed-methods approach was applied, including calculations of what activity that was most frequently performed and a manifest content analysis addressing experiences of activity.
The residents had a low activity level and were often alone. Approximately one-half of the reported activities were performed in their own apartments, and generally unaccompanied. A quarter of the activities were performed in the common areas and a further quarter outside the SH. The most frequently performed activities were quiet and tranquil ones, e.g. listening to music and resting. Doing errands and group activities with staff and residents were the main activities that motivated leaving the facility. The participant experience of a day is presented in three categories: “Experiences of chosen and enforced togetherness and overcoming loneliness”, “Environmental change and emotional balance can generate activity”, and “Met and unmet needs for support, friendship and security”.
The residents were generally satisfied with their quiet and tranquil lifestyle and appeared to demand little of life, which may relate to previous experiences of institutional life and can constitute a challenge for staff. The findings highlight experiences that can help to improve SH. Services need to support individually adjusted contextual stimuli and individualize the support to help residents find a good balance and motivate them to be active in and outside SH, which can support a recovery process.