Safe at home? A literature review of what older people perceive as important to feeling safe at home.

Publisert 03. oktober 2023 | Sist oppdatert 25. mars 2024

The purpose of this summary is to identify, describe and summarise knowledge about safety in one’s own home from the perspective of older people, with implications for the health and care services in Norwegian municipalities.

The summary includes 18 research and development studies with empirical data from Scandinavia, published between 2018 and 2022 in either Scandinavian languages or English.

The older persons included in the studies shared the common characteristic of having varying degrees of deteriorating health and functional decline, which necessitated the need for health and care services.

The following seven thematic areas emerged as central to the experiences of safety at home among the older people:

  • Services that provided security
  • Feeling at home
  • Assistance and support from family and social network
  • Participation and sense of mastery
  • Positive relationships and having trust in service providers
  • Clear and accessible services
  • Utilisation of technology and digital services

Services that provide security are exemplified in the studies in the form of ordinary home care, welfare technology, team-based efforts and preventative services. Feeling at home involves experiences of integrity, of being at home in one’s own life, of being able to follow one’s own routines and habits, and of being close to people who are important to one. Assistance and support from family and social networks represent both emotional and practical aid, often serving as an essential prerequisite for effectively managing daily life at home. Participation and a sense of mastery signify that feelings of security emerge when everyday life is perceived as adaptable and controllable. This can be promoted by delivering services according to the preferences of the older individual. Positive relationships and having trust in service providers are fundamentally crucial for the older persons to experience a sense of safety while being at home. This pertains not only to encountering competent professionals but also to interacting with healthcare personnel who are familiar with the individual and convey a sense of genuine concern. Clear and accessible services encompass information regarding the services offered, details about the visiting personnel and their schedules, along with the assurance that the services will be available when required. Utilisation of technology and digital services can make older people both safe and unsafe. In many cases, the technology creates security in the home and freedom to carry out daily activities. However, older people do not trust the technology unconditionally. It can threaten both privacy and sometimes inhibit life development and independence.

The findings presented in this summary indicate that the older individuals’ experiences of safety are connected to several factors that ultimately revolve around the fundamental aspect of care - the quality of interpersonal interactions.