The Use of Functional Assessment in Understanding Home Care Needs

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This study explored the use of functional assessment as a means for understanding individuals' needs for long-term care in the home setting. A primary focus of the study was to test the usefulness of a modified Barthel Index as the functional assessment instrument that measured personal care need. Data were derived from 89 chronically ill and/or disabled people who were receiving home health care from the Visiting Nurse Association of metropolitan Providence, Rhode Island (VNA). In addition to personal care need, the study explored psychological, socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of these individuals, as well as the specific services delivered by the VNA. Results indicate that the modified Barthel Index may be used to obtain detailed information regarding ability to perform activities of daily living in the home. The data also suggest that psychological functioning must be carefully assessed when personal care need is found to exist, particularly in elderly persons. The findings of the study indicate that individual need for long-term care might be measured by functional assessment in order to most effectively direct services into the home.

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