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Assessment of dependency levels of older people in the community and measurement of nursing workload


Gobnait Byrne: e-mail:


Title. Assessment of dependency levels of older people in the community and measurement of nursing workload

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to explore the relationship between the dependency levels of older people who are part of the community nurse’s caseload and the volume and nature of nursing input required.

Background.  International healthcare policy has consistently emphasized the reorientation of health services from hospital to community care. It is necessary to determine ways to use nursing resources appropriately to meet service needs of an increasing older population.

Method.  This quantitative study was conducted in one region of Ireland, which included a city and sparsely populated rural areas. Over a 4-week period in 2004, a volunteer sample of 44 nurses assessed all older people (1482) on their community caseload using the Community Client Need Classification System. In addition, participants recorded the amount of care time spent with each individual client by all members of the community nursing team.

Findings.  The vast majority of clients were seen in their own homes (85%, n = 1259). On the 5-point Community Client Need Classification System, the majority (39%, n = 571) were assessed at level 2 (low level of need) and 4% (n = 61) at level 5 (high level of need). As client need level increased, the consumption of community nursing time also increased.

Conclusion.  The tool was successful in discriminating between care needs levels of older people and may be useful in predicting the type and amount of human resources required by individuals who need community nursing services. Lack of information on demographic variables may limit the transferability of these findings.