Title

How homeless sector workers deal with the death of service users: a grounded theory study

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Lakeman, R 2011, 'How homeless sector workers deal with the death of service users: a grounded theory study', Death Studies, vol. 35, no. 10, pp. 925-948.

Published version available from:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2011.553328

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

Homeless sector workers often encounter the deaths of service users. A modified grounded theory methodology project was used to explore how workers make sense of, respond to, and cope with sudden death. In-depth interviews were undertaken with 16 paid homeless sector workers who had experienced the death of someone with whom they worked. Transcripts of interviews and field notes were analyzed using the constant comparative method and a theory that described the positive framing of death emerged. Dealing with death and trauma is not something that most workers expect when they begin work but exposure to the death of a service user heightens expectations that other service users may be harmed. How workers cope or positively frame death depends on several interlinked processes. These include how the death is encountered; how the worker and others mark the death; and the extent that the vulnerability of self, peers, and service users is recognized and responded to. Successfully framing death enables the worker to continue working in the sector whilst maintaining enthusiasm for the work and compassion for service users.