Date of Award
homelessness, advocacy, emergency shelter, occupational therapy
Individuals experiencing homelessness face many occupational and social barriers that limit the ability to participate in meaningful daily living activities, impacting the overall identity of individuals within this population. Occupational therapy services have been explored but there is a continued need to expand and advocate for the effect of occupational therapy in meeting the population’s needs and ultimately aim to reduce homelessness rates. This capstone project sought to explore service delivery for individuals at the Stephen Center in Omaha, Nebraska who are experiencing homelessness, providing increased advocacy efforts along with continuing to explore clinical skill development to best serve the unhoused population. Methods included actively participating on an interprofessional care team to guide care decisions along with individualized occupational therapy treatment and leading group intervention sessions. Follow-up care procedures were developed to address high rates of recidivism with one client completing the protocol following discharge. Clinical leadership was also explored by hosting occupational therapy students at the site to introduce how occupational therapy can provide services in a non-traditional, mental health focused site. All established goals were met, and the completion of post-discharge assessments informed clinical implications that continued work need to be done to further expand the scope of occupational therapy with this population, even after being placed in stable housing environments. There needs to be an increased focus within the profession for occupational therapy to provide care to underserved populations and address the identified occupational injustices experienced.
Geistfeld, Christina E., "Restoring Identity for the Homeless: Exploring Occupational Therapy Services for Unhoused Populations" (2023). Occupational Therapy Capstone Presentations. 96.