EASY-Care and needs assessment

ccChris Craig is a Research Assistant at NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care East Midlands, at the University of Nottingham. He has been working on a study called ‘Supporting Older People’s Resilience through Assessment of Needs and Outcomes’ (SOPRANO).  Here, he discusses a new Age & Ageing paper on EASY-Care on which he was corresponding author.

EASY-Care is a Comprehensive Geriatric Needs Assessment tool. It consists of 49 core questions covering physical, mental, social and environmental domains. For a tool accredited to be used as part of the Single Assessment Procedure in England, we expected to find literature documenting EASY-Care’s use in the community. However literature retrieved in our systematic search did not report implementation of the tool in practice. Our review summarises trials, reviews, commentaries and opinion pieces detailing EASY-Care’s validity, and acceptability.

Patients and practitioners alike lauded EASY-Care for its international acceptability. Older people praised its simplicity, duration to complete and felt their needs were adequately identified through the assessment. Likewise, medical practitioners saw the benefits of using it within a complex intervention and the figures corroborate this; an intervention arm produced better health outcomes in an EASY-Care based intervention (Melis et al 2008).

We found substantial and diverse evidence for the validity of EASY-Care. Basing itself on several pre-validated health measurement scales and having received input from professional geriatricians suggested EASY-Care should indeed measure what it is supposed to. There was good evidence to justify this; in addition to the data collected, professional opinion pieces contribute to its credibility.

Our systematic search found no robust evidence of reliability of EASY-Care. In the one study that we identified, the author’s acknowledge that further testing was required to ensure the consistency of information collected with EASY-Care. However, EASY-Care has been developed from established tools and this gives confidence in using the comprehensive tool.

What this review has made clear is a need to establish an evidence base of the benefits of EASY-Care in routine practice. Through this work we suggest that the tool could be used within three different approaches. Firstly it can be used to assess an individual’s need (in conjunction with their informal carer) and to inform a care plan. Secondly, Easy-Care can be used as part of a screen for frailty. Thirdly the assessment can be used to collate data on population needs to inform commissioning and public health intelligence. Our review found some evidence for the second approach; screening for frailty, but no studies describing care planning or collation of population data.

Our continuing research project (SOPRANO) will focus on how assessments may be used as part of a referral process between agencies and also to collate population level information. For example, EASY-Care could be an assessment tool that could be used by care navigators or co-ordinators to support and enable integrated practice across health and social care and the voluntary sector. For more info, see:

http://www.clahrc-em.nihr.ac.uk/clahrc-em-nihr/research/caring-for-older-people-and-stroke-survivors/soprano-study.aspx

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