The aging population will lead to a rise in the number of people with age-related diseases, and increasing demand for home care services. Telecare is seen as a solution to this challenge by promoting aging in place. Nevertheless, there is still a poor understanding of older adults’ experiences with the actual use of telecare.
The aim of this review was to identify and synthesize the best available qualitative evidence of community-dwelling older adults’ experience with the use of telecare in home care services.
This review considered studies that focused on qualitative data, examining older adults’ experiences with the use of active and passive technology devices, such as personal alarms and sensor technology, in the context of home care services.
This review systematically searched the databases Scopus, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and SveMed+ to find both published and unpublished studies in English, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish, from 2005 to 2017.
Methodological quality of the included studies was assessed independently by two reviewers using the Joanna Briggs Institute Qualitative Assessment and Review Instrument.
Qualitative data were extracted from papers included in the review using the standardized Qualitative Assessment and Review Instrument from the Joanna Briggs Institute.
Qualitative research findings were pooled using the Joanna Briggs Institute Qualitative Assessment and Review Instrument, and involved aggregation and synthesis of findings.
A total of 118 findings from 11 studies were aggregated into 20 categories. The categories generated seven synthesized findings: 1) Aging in place is desired; however, it may also be related to feeling isolated and lonely. 2) Telecare contributes to safety, security, and aging in place. 3) Privacy is not seen as a problem by most older adults because the technology is intended to help them live safely in their own home. 4) Some telecare devices have side effects, especially new technology. Some devices do not work outside the home, thus limiting active aging. 5) Some older adults experience a misfit between technology and needs. They must see the value of a telecare device to use it. 6) Telecare may enforce an identity with negative connotations on older adults, as frail and helpless people. Autonomy is considered important. 7) Lack of understanding can hamper the correct use of telecare. Specific strategies may be needed.
The experiences with the use of telecare are diverse. Findings indicate telecare systems can promote safety and security to age in place that is a wish of many older adults. However, “one size does not fit all”- Telecare systems must fit individual needs, and be supported by service providers to accommodate sustainable use over time.