WHAT IS A COMMUNITY HEALTH NEEDS ASSESSMENT?
Community health needs assessment is a process that:
- describes the state of health of local people;
- enables the identification of the major risk factors and causes of ill health; and
- enables the identification of the actions needed to address these.
A community health needs assessment is not a one-off activity but a developmental process that is added to and amended over time. It is not an end in itself but a way of using information to plan health care and public health programmes in the future.
The steps of community health needs assessment are as follows.
- Profiling the collection of relevant information that will inform the nurse about the state of health and health needs of the population; and analysis of this information to identify the major health issues.
- Deciding on priorities for action
- Planning public health and health care programmes to address the priority issues
- Implementing the planned activities
- Evaluation of health outcomes
WHY DO IT?
Needs assessment will enable the health practitioners to:
- plan and deliver the most effective care to those in greatest need;
- apply the principles of equity and social justice in practice;
- ensure that scarce resources are allocated where they can give maximum health benefit; and
- work collaboratively with the community, other professionals and agencies to determine which health issues cause greatest concern and plan interventions to address those issues.