The Lived Experience of Establishing a Home After a Period of Homelessness

The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the structure of meaning of the lived experience of establishing a home after a period of homelessness. Fourteen semi-structured interviews were conducted using a unique line of inquiry based upon story theory and hermeneutic phenomenology. Questions were posed beginning with the present daily life in a home, followed by the previous experience of homelessness, and ending with establishing a home in the future. Stories were reconstructed, using the participant’s own words, and confirmed during a second interview. The data analysis strategies were rooted in the theoretical framework including identifying essential statements, raising statements to abstract core qualities, and explicating themes from the core qualities. A rich, description was composed including the participants’ anecdotes. Seven themes were identified including a) journeying on a downward path from having a home to being homeless, b) mustering resourcefulness to move from the street to a home, c) creating a home that is secure and personal, d) grappling with responsibility to hold on to home, e) building relationships that are affirming while setting boundaries, f) recognizing gratitude for life in the present that is peaceful, joyful, and fulfilling, and g) yearning for a future life of promise. The findings of this study may add to the body of nursing knowledge, reduce the gap in the literature, guide nursing practice, and influence local policy development.

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