Staff working in homelessness services often find the work rewarding yet challenging, and the sector experiences high levels of staff burnout and staff turnover. During the COVID-19 pandemic, staff working in these services faced particularly stressful working conditions. This study explored the experiences of stress and wellbeing among those working in frontline homelessness service roles during the early stages of the pandemic in Scotland. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 participants, 11 of whom completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). Qualitative data were analysed using Framework Analysis in NVivo, informed by the Revised Transactional Model of occupational stress and coping. MBI data were analysed using descriptive statistics. The COVID-19 pandemic positively and negatively impacted participants’ lives and roles. Organisational culture acted as a magnifying glass for pre-pandemic practices: for some, the pandemic brought teams and staff closer together, creating a better working environment. For others, it led to fragmentation and frustration. Participants discussed coping strategies and recommendations for the future to protect staff wellbeing. Quantitative data suggested that participants were not experiencing burnout, although some were at heightened risk. Future research should explore the longer-term impact of the pandemic on homelessness service staff outcomes.


This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Cite as

Carver, H., Price, T., Falzon, D., McCulloch, P. & Parkes, T. 2022, 'Stress and Wellbeing during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Mixed-Methods Exploration of Frontline Homelessness Services Staff Experiences in Scotland', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(6), article no: 3659. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19063659

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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