Empowering staff in Temporary Accommodation to best support people with Multiple Complex Needs 

The crisis in housing supply and growing numbers of people becoming homeless, has resulted in increased pressure on local authorities to source and provide temporary accommodation. Higher numbers of people with multiple and complex needs are being placed in unsupported temporary accommodation (TA) and in turn TA staff have become a key part of peoples’ journey out of homelessness.

Fulfilling Lives’ research shows that from our clients in TA, 57% of placements broke down due to behaviour or failure to comply with their accommodation provider’s licence agreement and expectations. With staff not trained to work with people with multiple and complex needs (MCN), behaviours that arise as a result of trauma can be seen as too challenging for the environment. As a result, clients can be evicted quickly and find themselves back at square one, in need of accommodation.

“We have experienced multiple situations where a TA resident has displayed progressive changes in their behaviour which have ultimately resulted in cancellation of their booking. Examples might include failure to maintain medication, depression or relapses into substance abuse. We are keen to find solutions to reduce the frequent cycles in TA and support progress towards stable living.”

TA Provider

As identified in FLSE’s Manifesto for Change, establishing acceptable minimum standards of training and quality for temporary accommodation providers is essential if local authorities are to use them in providing TA for people with MCN.

Over the past three years, Fulfilling Lives has facilitated training sessions for providers of temporary accommodation on how to better support people with multiple and complex needs. These sessions were led by members of the Service User Engagement team and client facing workers and gave insight into the experience of people with MCN and offered practical tools on how staff can support this group.

The sessions:

This training took place in a number of temporary accommodations across East Sussex and explored topics such as Stigma, Psychologically Informed Environments and Trauma, in the context of working with people with multiple and complex needs.

The training sessions were led by the FLSE team, and set out the following aims:

  • To introduce the learners to the concepts of – Multiple and complex needs (MCN), the impact of trauma on MCN clients, brief introduction to trauma-informed approaches (including psychologically informed environments PIE) and establishing professional boundaries with the client group. 
  • Share with learners the experiences of people with lived experience, including the impact of stigma, with a view to promoting increased empathy and understanding.  
  • The hope is that staff will feel more confident in working with people multiple and complex needs who are placed in temporary accommodation, and that these clients will have better outcomes such as increased ability to sustain a placement and better relationships with the staff. 

Feedback gathered from learners before and after the sessions highlights the positive impact training has on the understanding and confidence of staff. Learners gained knowledge around the impact of trauma and how this can present itself in the clients they work with.

“Trauma is not the event, it’s the person.”

Another learner said they would go away and particularly consider the impact of first impressions when working with MCN clients –

“The impact of first impressions on someone that is likely to be in a chaotic or stressed state. Their ability to retain information will be reduced as a result.”

A particularly valuable element of the training that was mentioned again and again in feedback was the opportunity to hear about the lived experience of temporary accommodation from the FLSE Project Consultant.

“I was really impressed with [the Project Consultant’s] story as having a real person’s account makes it more relatable”

The session received a net promoter score of 100, meaning that it was rated ‘excellent’ by attendees. Respondents valued the real-world insight gained on working with complex trauma and with multiple and complex needs.


It is clear that adequate training empowers staff to best support people with multiple and complex needs and establishes a greater understanding of the impact of trauma and challenging behaviours.

In line with our commitment for change, set out in our Manifesto, and based on the positive feedback from Fulfilling Lives’ training sessions, we recommend the following:

  • The adoption of minimum standards as documented in The Emergency Accommodation Charter, which requires TA providers to train their staff with a focus on safeguarding, Multiple Complex Needs awareness and trauma informed care (TIC) and Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE) approaches.
  • For local authorities to embed Fulfilling Lives’ multiple and complex needs training videos within their online induction resources and for these videos to make up part of the mandatory training for staff in temporary accommodation.

For residents in temporary accommodation to be asked for regular feedback on their accommodation, including a section on staff conduct and adherence to trauma-informed principles.


Eve McCallum

For further information about Fulfilling Lives work in this area, please contact:

Rebecca Rieley, Systems Change Lead:


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