AIM. The article reports the development of and data from a preliminary evaluation of a staffing methodology equalization tool (SMET) designed for the South Australian Department of Health to equalize the workload of community mental health and community health nurses working within multidisciplinary teams.
BACKGROUND. Shorter admissions, increasing patient acuity, and shortages of beds have intensified the work of community nurses. Existing workload models have limitations for community nursing settings.
METHOD. A workload tool for community mental health and community nurses was developed in consultation with a reference group of nurses. A trial was conducted at six sites, and the tool was evaluated using qualitative and quantitative data.
RESULTS. The tool increased transparency and equity of workloads in community teams and provided a means of reducing workload through demonstration of a capacity to take new clients, however, further work is required to factor the intensity of caseload into the tool.
CONCLUSIONS. The tool needs further evaluation to determine its applicability to a range of clinical settings.