Background: Working in homelessness is a growing area of practice for occupational therapists, however, there is limited literature on the lived experiences of homelessness and occupational engagement
Study aim: To explore the lived experience of homeless men in relation to how they engaged in day-to-day occupations when sleeping rough or hostel dwelling
Methods: Data were gathered from five men residing in a homeless hostel in the UK. Data collection included semi-structured interviews and photographic diaries. Data were analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
Results: Participants described their experiences of occupational engagement whilst sleeping on the streets which included engaging in survival occupations, the significance of apparently ordinary occupations and moving beyond survival occupations. The homeless hostel provided opportunities for occupational engagement that the men perceived in an idiosyncratic manner. The men described benefits of engaging in novel occupations and reengaging in known occupations. Occupational injustices were a common theme that occurred throughout participants experiences
Conclusion: This study has highlighted the diversity of occupational engagement for ‘roofless’ or ‘houseless’ participants and how different individuals experience occupational adaption
Significance: This study has furthered understandings of the concept of ‘survival occupations’ and the importance of community resources to facilitate occupational engagement whilst homeless.