Title

Occupation, Agency and Quality of Life for Homeless Women Living in a Shelter

Presenter Information

Anne Shordike

Start Time

30-10-2004 3:00 PM

End Time

30-10-2004 4:30 PM

Abstract

As the numbers of homeless persons in the United States continue to increase, the greatest increase is in homeless women and families. At least 14% of the homeless are single women and 40% are families, 85% of these have a single mother as head of household (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2002). This paper will discuss how the experience of homelessness impacts the occupations, sense of agency and quality of life of women living in a homeless shelter. It will explore their experiences of their daily occupations, including their perceptions of their quality of life and their ability to have control in their necessary and meaningful occupations.

This study, currently in the data analysis stage, involves in depth interviews as well as Quality of Life and Locus of Control surveys with 27 homeless women currently living in a shelter to explore the relationship of occupation, quality of life and perceived sense of agency for these women. Preliminary analysis reveals that most of the women interviewed feel that they have little difficulty performing daily occupations. The occupational constraints in their lives come from financial deprivation, which results in occupational deprivation. Valued occupations, which they may or not be participating in while in the shelter, were discussed. The women consider how shelter living impacts their physical, social and psychological well-being. Most of the women prioritize getting a job and a place to live, and for some, child care. While more of the participants seem to prioritize “working the system” and utilizing external resources to get their needs met, some of them clearly assume that they are responsible for their own well-being and participation and have the expectation that they will be successful.

Some discussion questions that this work has raised for the researcher include:

  • How does a disenfranchised individual relate to societal systems and how is this manifested in their occupations?
  • Can occupation be a measure of quality of life and agency?
  • Can occupation be a method as well as an outcome when confronted with functional dependence, that is, society’s creation of dependence on social systems?

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Oct 30th, 3:00 PM Oct 30th, 4:30 PM

Occupation, Agency and Quality of Life for Homeless Women Living in a Shelter

As the numbers of homeless persons in the United States continue to increase, the greatest increase is in homeless women and families. At least 14% of the homeless are single women and 40% are families, 85% of these have a single mother as head of household (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2002). This paper will discuss how the experience of homelessness impacts the occupations, sense of agency and quality of life of women living in a homeless shelter. It will explore their experiences of their daily occupations, including their perceptions of their quality of life and their ability to have control in their necessary and meaningful occupations.

This study, currently in the data analysis stage, involves in depth interviews as well as Quality of Life and Locus of Control surveys with 27 homeless women currently living in a shelter to explore the relationship of occupation, quality of life and perceived sense of agency for these women. Preliminary analysis reveals that most of the women interviewed feel that they have little difficulty performing daily occupations. The occupational constraints in their lives come from financial deprivation, which results in occupational deprivation. Valued occupations, which they may or not be participating in while in the shelter, were discussed. The women consider how shelter living impacts their physical, social and psychological well-being. Most of the women prioritize getting a job and a place to live, and for some, child care. While more of the participants seem to prioritize “working the system” and utilizing external resources to get their needs met, some of them clearly assume that they are responsible for their own well-being and participation and have the expectation that they will be successful.

Some discussion questions that this work has raised for the researcher include:

  • How does a disenfranchised individual relate to societal systems and how is this manifested in their occupations?
  • Can occupation be a measure of quality of life and agency?
  • Can occupation be a method as well as an outcome when confronted with functional dependence, that is, society’s creation of dependence on social systems?