An individual's surrounding environment, particularly his or her home environment, can significantly impact one's overall health and well-being. Furthermore, an individual's home's condition can dramatically influence one's risk for domestic accidents and subsequent suffering. Home safety must be evaluated, discussed with patients and caregivers, and considered continuously when making decisions about the future of the patient's care in order to maximize their health outcomes.
Home safety is significant for people of all ages. Young children may be at risk for injury or suffering from unintentional poisoning, falls from heights, drowning, or scalds and burns. Older adults are commonly at risk for falls because of decreases in eyesight or mobility. At any stage of life, people may be at risk from faulty or improperly used appliances like smoke detectors or improperly installed electrical circuits. Because there are a broad range of potential hazards within the home, home safety evaluations and assessments can be critical in identifying and removing potential home hazards.
- Safety Assessment of Function and the Environment for Rehabilitation—Health Outcome Measurement and Evaluation (SAFER-HOME v3)
- This pre-discharge assessment is an interview and observation-based assessment that evaluates an individual's ability to engage in functional activities safely.
- In-Home Occupational Performance Evaluation for Providing Assistance (I-HOPE Assist)
- This tool assesses changes in performance and safety in the home before home modifications and after home modifications.
- Home Falls and Accidents Screening Tool (Home FAST)
- A short, 25-item assessment for identifying fall hazards in the homes of older adults
- Westmead Home Safety Assessment (WeHSA)
- This tool has a long-form and a short-form and targets potential fall risks in older adults.
- Home Safety Self-Assessment Tool (HSSAT)
- Patients and patient caregivers can use this self-assessment tool to self-identify and correct potential fall hazards.
- Informal practitioner-created checklists.
- Some practitioners create their own checklists for home safety evaluation. These checklists can help to identify hazards to child/infant safety, hazards for individuals with differing levels of physical or cognitive disability, adults who are aging in place, or any general area of home safety.
Techniques and interventions for home safety are as varied as the potential hazards. Some strategies are as simple as removing the potential risk. For example, eliminating small hard objects that may be choking hazards from a home with a young child or lowering the temperature of the hot water heater to reduce the risk of burns in the home of an older adult. Other strategies may involve adding or routinely checking safety measures such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors. Home modification techniques work to reduce environmental barriers to safe, functional performance through the use of activity modifications, the addition of assistive devices, or even changes to the architecture of the house. Finally, patient and caregiver centered education about home safety techniques can lead to long-term reduction of risk of suffering from home hazards.