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Health Soc Care Community. 2013 Mar;21(2):159-70. doi: 10.1111/hsc.12004. Epub 2012 Oct 11.

A vacation for the homeless: evaluating a collaborative community respite programme in Canada through clients' perspectives.

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Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Montreal, QC, Canada.


This study assesses the Urban Breakaway Project, a collaborative project offering a structured vacation in the countryside of the province of Quebec intended for homeless (or street) youths. The objective of this study was to document participants' perspectives regarding this project by examining their satisfaction, intention to change following their stay and perceived improvement with respect to their life situation. Another goal of this research was to investigate the relationship between satisfaction level and perceived improvement of participants. One hundred and seven individuals participated in the study, during Urban Breakaway's first year of operation. Satisfaction with the project, assessed with the global Client Satisfaction Questionnaire-3 score, revealed a positive relationship with global scores of perceived improvement, as measured by the Perceived Improvement Questionnaire [PIQ; r = 0.37 (67), 95% CI (0.15; 0.56)]. Regarding intention to change, the data indicated that 95% of participants had moderate-to-definite intentions to do something to change their lives. Participants reported an improvement for most items covered by the PIQ. They experienced the greatest changes in relation to mood, leisure, appetite, physical condition and self-esteem. Results indicate that the Urban Breakaway Project reaches not only street youths but also an older homeless population. Participants, regardless of their age, were found to be very satisfied with services obtained, and their satisfaction was significantly correlated with the perceived improvement in their situation. Qualitative data indicate that characteristics of the programme, such as the countryside setting, the focus on basic needs, the climate and the opportunity for socialisation, peer support (or belonging) and personal growth were appreciated.

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