Assessment of the elderly: it’s worth covering the risks


  • RACHEL LANGDON BAppSci, BA (Hons),

    1. Research Assistant, South Western Sydney Centre for Applied Nursing Research, Liverpool, NSW, Australia
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  • MAREE JOHNSON RN, BAppsSci, MAppSci, PhD,

    1. Professor and Director/Professor of Nursing, South Western Sydney Centre for Applied Nursing Research / School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Western Sydney
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  • VINCE CARROLL RN, BHlthSci (Nursing), GradDipBusAdmin,

    1. Registered Nurse, Mater Christi Residential Aged Care Facility, Toormina, NSW, Australia
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  • GERALDINE ANTONIO RN, RM, DipAppSci (Nursing), GradDipHlthMan, MHlthMan

    1. Operational Nurse Manager, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, NSW, Australia
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Rachel Langdon
SWS Centre for Applied Nursing Research
Locked Bag 7103
Liverpool BC NSW 1871


Background  Comprehensive assessments provide an invaluable opportunity to identify those at risk of adverse health events, enabling timely access to appropriate health care.

Aims  This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a comprehensive assessment tool, the Adult Patient Assessment Tool (APAT), particularly in relation to early identification of older people at risk of falls, pressure areas, cognitive impairment or delirium, or patients with mental illness or substance abuse.

Methods  Concurrent mixed methods including an initial retrospective medical record audit and focus groups were used.

Results  With the introduction of the APAT, assessment of falls risk and mental illness increased. The number of nursing actions relating to pressure areas and falls also increased, indicating a greater awareness of patients’ individual needs. Non-clinical information gathered through the APAT enabled a more holistic approach to patient care.

Conclusion  The use of electronic medical records would alleviate pressures on nurses’ time, providing an opportunity to store and retrieve comprehensive nursing assessment and benefit patient health care.

Implications for nursing management  Early assessment results in an increased number of nursing activities related to patient care. Further education relating to mental health and substance abuse screening and cognitive assessment may enhance the completion of these tools.