‘Grounding a PIE in the sky’: Laying empirical foundations for a psychologically informed environment (PIE) to enhance well-being and practice in a homeless organisation

Christel Schneider, Chris Hobson, Katherine Shelton

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While psychologically informed environments (PIEs) are gaining in prominence in efforts to improve well-being and practice in the homeless sector, their empirical foundations remain tenuous. We present a unique scoping needs analysis of staff and client well-being, staff attitudes and the social-therapeutic climate in a UK-based homeless prevention organisation (prior to PIE implementation). Our aims were: (a) to apply a robust framework to pinpoint need and target forthcoming PIE initiatives and (b) to establish a validated needs baseline that informs and measures efficacy of PIE for its future development. Four established personal and practice well-being measures were administered to 134 (predominantly 'frontline') staff and 50 clients. Staff completed the: Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS), Professional Quality of Life Scale (measuring compassion satisfaction [CS], burnout [BO] and secondary traumatic stress [STS]), Attitudes related to Trauma-informed Care Scale (ARTIC-10; measuring practice attitudes towards trauma-informed values) and the Essen Climate Evaluation Schema (EssenCES; measuring perceptions of client cohesion, safety and practitioner relationships in housing projects). Clients completed the WEMWBS and EssenCES. Vulnerability to STS was evident in nearly two-thirds of frontline staff and it was a statistically significant predictor of BO. It was not, however, associated with lesser levels of CS. We discuss this complex dynamic in relation to highlighted strategic recommendations for the PIE framework, and the identified potential challenges in implementing trauma-informed and reflective practice in the organisation. We conclude with a critique of the value and the lessons learnt from our efforts to integrate stronger empirical substance into the PIE approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e657-e667
Number of pages11
JournalHealth & Social Care in the Community
Issue number3
Early online date31 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the host third‐sector organisation where the research took place.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Health and Social Care in the Community published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • homeless sector
  • professional well-being
  • psychologically informed environments
  • secondary traumatic stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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