From struggling to survive to a life based on values and choices: first-person experiences of participating in a Norwegian Housing First project
Introduction: Persons with concurrent substance-abuse and mental-health problems often lack permanent housing, and have a poorer quality of life and lower levels of functioning than persons who primarily have mental-health problems. A Housing First project (HF) began during the autumn of 2013 in a Norwegian city. The target group was persons who were struggling with substance-abuse and mental-health problems and who lacked housing. The HF model has a holistic health and social approach to help this group to establish themselves and to be able to remain in their own homes.
Aim: Little is known about how the HF model works in Norway. The aim of this study was to explore, describe, and interpret clients’ experiences of partaking in this HF project.
Method: The qualitative research interview was used as the method for the generation of data. Twelve participants were interviewed, and a phenomenological hermeneutic method was used to analyse the data.
Results: The structured analysis revealed two themes, and the comprehensive understanding centred around these two interwoven themes: having an available professional companion and taking the lead in your own life.Discussion: This study shows that people with a dual diagnosis can begin to recover and obtain a better quality of life if they receive appropriate housing, support, and services of their choice on their own terms. The study confirms the importance of the participants’ active participation, control, and choice in planning and formulating specific services. The results show that if a person wishes and dares to change his or her life, then decisive conditions are having one’s own home, meeting professionals who inspire trust, and having one’s personal preferences and needs recognized.
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