Even with increasing requirements for assistance, most elderly people want to be able to continue living at home until the end of their lives. “Ageing in place” has become a political creed, not just in German-speaking countries, but also internationally. However, reality is a different matter: most people die in institutions. Self-sacrificing private care and outpatient services are clearly insufficient to enable a person to stay at home.


The question posed is therefore: under what conditions could elderly people potentially remain living at home for longer? The Swiss-German project entitled “InnoWo – zu Hause wohnen bleiben bis zuletzt – in innovativen Wohnformen bzw. mit innovativ-ganzheitlichen Diensten” (InnoWo – living at home until the end of life and/or with innovatively integrated services) investigated this question within an intensive qualitative research design. The binational cooperation project between the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences (Germany) and FHS St. Gallen was sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research SILQUA programme.

Three settings were investigated:
  • heavily supported living at home in the context of a best practice, service Provider
  • young-and-old housing projects including community work
  • self-organised joint housing projects

The research results show the variety of burdens placed by elderly people on their relatives. Intervention that is as early, as easily accessible and as preventative as possible, but particularly psychosocial counselling, may prevent or delay initial crises. If the support process begins in an actual crisis, it is often necessary to undertake several biopsychosocial interventions simultaneously. The care and professionalism of professionals is crucial to ensure that they do not unsettle or expect too much of the whole environment. Not least, a tailored assistance process only results in the desired objective of remaining at home in the medium and long-term if it is always kept up-to-date and reliably improved and the elderly people can retain an active role. However, the people involved in this context include relatives, who are often elderly themselves, whose interests and needs are not the same as those of the elderly person needing care.



External funding

German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, SILQUA programme

Project team

Mannheim University of Applied Sciences: Astrid Hedtke-Becker
FHS St. Gallen: Ulrich Otto


Hedtke-Becker, A., & Otto, U. (2014). Zu Hause wohnen bleiben bis zuletzt bei chronischer Krankheit im höheren Lebensalter / Living at home until the end of life with chronic diseases in older age. In Hochschule Mannheim (Hrsg.), F+E-Profil (S. 18–22). Mannheim. PDF

Hedtke-Becker, A., Hoevels, R., Otto, U., Stumpp, G., & Beck S. (2012). Zu Hause wohnen wollen bis zuletzt: Beraten und Intervenieren im Netzwerk chronisch kranker alter Menschen: Eine Fallstudie. In: S. Pohlmann (Hrsg.), Altern mit Zukunft (S.141-176). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.

Hedtke-Becker, A., Hoevels, R., Otto, U., & Stumpp, G. (2011). Selbstbestimmt bis zum Lebensende zu Hause bleiben – Strategien niederschwelliger Hilfen und psychosozialer Beratung für alte Menschen und ihr Umfeld. In: S.B. Gahleitner & G. Hahn (Hrsg.). Übergänge gestalten, Lebenskrisen begleiten (S. 246-260). Bonn: Psychiatrie-Verlag.


Radio SRF 4, News: Im Kollektiv wohnen, 24.12.2014.

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