Community Essay

The fundamental conditions and resources for health are peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable ecosystem, sustainable resources, social justice, and equity. Improvement in health requires a secure foundation in these basic prerequisites In biological terms, a community is a group of interacting species sharing an environment. In human communities, intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, risks, and a number of other conditions may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness.

Governments across Australia are faced with rising demands for health care, limited resources and increasing inequalities in health. Community health Needs Assessment has a central part to play, enabling practitioners, managers and policy-makers to identify those in greatest need and to ensure that health care resources are used to maximize health improvement. It is a vital health care planning tool to be used at the level of families, communities and populations. This document describes the ways in which Community Needs Assessment can identify priority health needs, target resources to address inequalities and involve local people.

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The process of undertaking Health Needs Assessment is described and the important contribution of nurses explored. Family health Nurse’s play a key role in addressing the needs of the family within the context of the community. Community Health Practitioners play a role throughout the life course and along the entire health–illness continuum, with particular reference to the needs of the most vulnerable groups in society. Those within the Community Medical field base their practice on primary health care and public health principles.

To enable them to carry out this role effectively and to plan their work accordingly, they need to have a thorough understanding of the community and its needs. To this end, they will need to be competent to undertake community, individual and family needs assessment. This document explains a comprehensive tool to assist the family health nurse in accomplishing that. Community health needs assessment is a process that describes the state of health of local people and enables the identification of the major risk factors and causes of ill health.

A community needs assessment also 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. Within a community needs assessment it should be made sure that a holistic approach is taken by including the following, a Patients’ perception of their needs, along with the views of carers and family members, social and psychological needs as well as physical needs.

Wider factors, positive and negative, that influence health, fro example. housing, income, employment. It is also important that this framework follows a process of assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation/reassessment. A community needs assessment is a way of gathering information about a community’s opinions, needs, challenges, and assets used to determine which project(s) will meet the real needs of the community. Communities are continuously changing socially, culturally and , economically therefore programs and policies need to evolve and recognize these changes so they are still relevant.

Undertaking a Community Needs Assessment is beneficial to see what community is like, the characteristics of people, types of values, beliefs, goals, concerns, and problems. Through an assessment people learn more about a situation and feel they have a voice in the outcome. Community health needs assessment is a process that describes the state of health of local people and enables the identification of the major risk factors and causes of ill health and 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 Purpose of undertaking a Needs Assessment will enable a nurse to plan and deliver the most effective care to those in greatest need and apply the principles of equity and social justice in practice. To simultaneously work collaboratively with the community, other professionals and agencies to determine which health issues cause greatest concern and plan interventions to address those issues.

The benefits of completing the community needs analysis include gaining an understanding of the issues that the community feel are important and an early chance to gain the support of the community for the proposed intervention. “What is a Need? ” A need is something you have to have and cannot do without. Example: food-you need it to sustain yourself. A want is different, but may be perceived as a need by some people. Whilst conducting an informal community needs assessment, a Nurse may ask: “What do you consider a need for you? ” A Community Needs Assessment is used to identify the needs of a Community. Bradshaw’s Model of Need12 ** In text reference)******* Bradshaw (1972) suggested four different types of need. It is essential to tap into each dimension of need to increase the chance of constructing a comprehensive picture of community problems. The four categories include Normative, Expressed, Comparative and Felt need. Normative need refers to what expert opinion based on research defines as need. For example, the National Health and Medical Research Council recommends all children aged 12 – 15 months be vaccinated against measles.

If data shows that many children are not immunised, this indicates a health need, defined by experts (e. g. medical definition of obesity) Expressed need refers to what can be inferred about the health need of a community by observation of the community’s use of services. (e. g. long waiting lists, demand for a new service). Expressed need can however be misinterpreted. Long waiting lists at a health service may be the result of inefficiency and not about the size of the group wanting to be treated.

Additionally, a need may exist but because there is no service in place to meet it, the expressed need may not be identified. Comparative need is derived from examining the services provided in one area to one population and using this information as the basis to determine the sort of services required in another area with a similar population. When assessing comparative need the level of service provision in the reference area must be appropriate in the first place. Be aware that data collected may in fact be a reflection of over-servicing or under-servicing by service roviders rather than an indication of true need for the service by health consumers. Comparisons between needs for severity, size, range of interventions, cost, (e. g. offering a service in weight reduction only to people over a certain weight). Felt need refers to what communities say or feel they need, an individual perceptions of variation from normal health, for example feeling that weight loss would be beneficial. Common methods of assessing felt needs are household opinion surveys, phone-ins, public meetings and calling for submissions from those in the community.

When determining felt needs, there are three focus points, being that people have a tendency to express needs in terms of a solution eg. more nursing home beds. Individuals may be representing themselves or others, and also the level of expectation in relation to services may influence felt need. There is a number of ways in which Community Needs Assessment data is sought. The type of information gathered will depend on the individual community and its specific needs. However, the following information should be gathered in all community needs assessments.

A description of the community and applicable statistics including needs identified by community leaders and members as well as current action being taken to meet community needs. The main sources descend from Primary Data Collection and Secondary Data Collection Methods. Primary Data is acquired through Focus group’s, bring 6-20 people from various stakeholder groups together to discuss needs and problems of their community Personal interviews, Telephone interviews or self-administered (mail or Internet) surveys Sources of secondary data can be obtained from two different research strands, Quantitative and Qualitative.

Examples of Quantative include: Census, housing, social security as well as electoral statistics and other related databases. Examples of Qualitative include Semi-structured and structured interviews, field notes, observation records and other personal, research-related documents. A clear benefit of using secondary data is that much of the background work needed has been already been carried out, for example: literature reviews, case studies might have been carried out, published texts and statistic could have been already used elsewhere, media promotion and personal contacts have also been utilized.


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