“I will never forget him”. A qualitative exploration of staff descriptions of helpful relationships in supportive housing [2020]

In the aftermath of the deinstitutionalisation in western countries, new community‐based mental health services have been established. An essential object of studies in this new institutional landscape has been helpful professional relationships, but we still lack knowledge about helpful relationships in community‐based institutional supportive housing.

To explore how staff members describe their relationships with residents who have identified them as helpful.

Qualitative interviews with nine staff members were analysed using thematic analysis.

“Reciprocity” was identified as the main theme, and two subthemes were developed; “Something influential about the resident” and “Value for the staff member”.

The findings are discussed and related to existing conceptualisations of reciprocity in professional relationships, and an additional conceptualisation is suggested.

Implications for practice
To promote reciprocity, managers should consider both parties’ personal preferences when matching professionals and service users. Further, professionals should get involved in ways that open up for being influenced and inspired by several of the service user’s characteristics. They should allow themselves to enjoy the company of the service user in ways that promote multifaceted reciprocity.

Gunnhild Ruud Lindvig, Alain Topor, Tore Dag Bøe, Inger Beate Larsen
Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 13 July 2020