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The Lived Experience of Residential Home Care: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis study of the experiences of young adults who reside in therapeutic residential care in Denmark

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date14/07/2023
Number of pages208
Awarding Institution
Award date14/07/2023
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Residential care is, in many countries, a living arrangement for young people with behavioural problems who require a level of help which is beyond their own family’s resources.

Research on residential care has, in recent years, focused on outcomes, intervention evaluation and economy including comparison with alternative care forms. Relatively little research has been conducted on how young people experience living in care. For example, the systematic review conducted as part of this thesis found from a systematic international search just 12 qualitative papers published between 1990 and 2020 which included residents’ accounts in the findings.

This thesis’ empirical study engaged interpretative phenomenological analysis as the methodology to investigate the lived experiences of eight young adults who lived in Danish therapeutic residential care. The participants engaged in two individual semi-structured interviews where their accounts of the experience of living in residential care as young people and young adults formed the study’s data. Four group experiential themes are presented as the study’s findings: (1) “They [carers] go up to the young people and talk to them”: Navigating the challenge of staff-system-resident relationships. (2) “I am just more grown up”: The experience of transitions towards adulthood and life beyond residential care. (3) “… actually, they wanted me back”: The experience of having family and friends while living in care. (4) “I said yes, she told me that was good…”: Making sense of receiving help and developing self-help.

As an original contribution to knowledge this study concludes with a discussion which highlights the resulting stress from moving both into care and during care, the importance the participants placed on feeling able to develop and ultimately leave care at a pace independent of legislative time frames, and how family, for five of the participants, was experienced as the most stable factor during their residency.