'Who cares and what matters?': Exploring end of life priorities of homeless adults in the UK


People experiencing homelessness consistently fail to access palliative care services (Care Quality Commission 2016) and while there is much in the literature surrounding the barriers to appropriate health care (Hudson et al 2016), their specific needs and wishes remain poorly understood by health care professionals (Care Quality Commission 2016). This study aims to bridge the gap in knowledge.

The research question

The central question is ‘What matters most to homeless people in the UK as they consider end of life?’.

Aim of study

The aim of this interpretive phenomenological study is to explore the end of life priorities of a sample of homeless adults in the United Kingdom.


This qualitative PhD project is a phenomenological study underpinned by the philosophy of French phenomenologist, Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Data is being collected through in-depth, semi-structured, audio-recorded 1:1 interviews with homeless adults across several UK counties. Interviews are taking place at staffed centres providing services for older homeless adults. Data is being analysed iteratively using thematic analysis.


This PhD is a work in progress. Early findings will be shared.


It will not yet be possible to draw full conclusions from preliminary data. However, a deeper understanding of preferences and priorities will assist commissioners and healthcare professionals to plan and provide relevant palliative care services address the problem of homeless people dying without adequate support and with very little dignity or choice.

A Research Scholarship from the Florence Nightingale Foundation has part-funded this PhD.

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