Health Services Research & Development

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Wyte-Lake T, Claver M, Tubbesing S, Davis D, Dobalian A. Development of a Home Health Patient Assessment Tool for Disaster Planning. Gerontology. 2019 Feb 7; 1-9.
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Abstract: BACKGROUND: Historically, older adults have been disproportionately affected by disasters. In particular, homebound adults are especially at risk. As one facet of bolstering community resilience, home health agencies have been tasked with improving their patients'' disaster preparedness. However, home health practitioners often lack the information necessary to fulfill these requirements. Providing resources about disaster preparedness will allow these practitioners, often seen as trusted advisors, to better prepare their patients. OBJECTIVE: This study explores the utility of implementing a checklist-style assessment tool to guide Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Home-Based Primary Care (HBPC) practitioners in disaster preparedness assessments of their patients. METHODS: The HBPC Patient Assessment Tool for Disaster Planning ("Tool") was fielded by practitioners at 10 VHA HBPC programs with all patients seen over the course of a 3-week period. Descriptive statistics and bivariate analysis of the data collected via the Tool were used to understand the baseline levels of preparedness education provided by practitioners to their patients. Data from a follow-up survey and follow-up interviews with Program Managers were analyzed, the latter using content analysis methods. RESULTS: 754 surveys were returned for analysis. We examined how frequently practitioners reviewed the included preparedness items with their patients. Of those patients on oxygen, adherence ranged from 67 to 94% for practitioners covering a discussion about smoking materials/open flame, despite strong efforts to achieve high compliance on this measure as reported by several program managers. Of those items applicable to the general population, certain items were more frequently discussed than others. How to activate 911 services was most frequently reviewed (87%). Providing information about emergency shelter registration and specialty transport was the item least frequently reviewed (44%). Strengths about the Tool included its ease of use, flow, comprehensiveness, and that it fits on one page. CONCLUSION: Home-based care programs, such as the VHA HBPC program, are tasked with supporting the emergency preparedness of their patients, but often do not have the expertise to do so. This study shows that the checklist-like structure of an assessment tool can assist with this role by encouraging practitioners to cover key points with patients and their caregivers.