Feeling at Home

– a research project
Richard Banks writes for MakingHomeHome…

On Wednesday 26 April, 2023 I attended an exhibition and presentation on the Feeling at Home research study https://feelingathome.org.uk/.  Which is achieving some complex and useful results.  

There is much to be said, and to come, about this research project which is finding out from people with learning disabilities what helps them feel at home. However, I will start by describing an apparently simple idea used to gather the views of people living in group and other types of ‘home’.  The idea is that people living in these homes take photographs of rooms, furniture anything or anybody in the place they live that they want to use to say something about their sense of feeling at home. The photos are printed and displayed along with what the person says about the photo. This is called photovoice[1] and is an established research method.

In the exhibition the photos and the accompanying text ranged from the joyous happiness of own space and relationships to those that give a powerful insight into living in a place that is institutional and does not feel like home. There is something clear and undeniable about these photos, with the short discussions, that goes beyond the often-repeated lines about personalisation, individual care plans and living in the community.

The project is at the initial stage of finding what contributes to people feeling at home. Their summary thus far is:

The subjective experience of feeling at home can have a positive impact on wellbeing. Findings point toward an assemblage of material, relational affective and organisational factors which contribute to or undermine the experience of feeling at home. Reflection on the interactions between different factors may provide opportunities to strengthen the experience of home.   

The project will continue to extend understanding further while developing and evaluating a check list and tool kit.  These are intended to understand more about what is important to an individual in feeling at home and to support changes to make where and how they live feel at home.

See more on the project https://feelingathome.org.uk/  

The approach and methods used offer an example on how other forms of accommodation-based support can test their aims of being homely.

The research is funded by the National Institute of Health and Care Research School for Social Care.

[1] https://indeemo.com/blog/photovoice-research 

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