3.1 Manage systems and processes which enable early identification and assessment of an individual’s current and emerging health needs

Course: NVQ Level 5 Diploma In Leadership & Management for Adult Care

Unit 5: Person-centred practice for positive outcomes

LO3: Lead practice in appropriate health and care methods to achieve person-centred outcomes

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3.1 Manage systems and processes which enable early identification and assessment of an individual’s current and emerging health needs

The health needs of an individual can change rapidly over time, so it’s important for healthcare systems and processes to be able to identify and assess an individual’s current and emerging health needs.

Systems and processes that enable early identification and assessment of an individual’s current and emerging health needs are critical for ensuring that people receive the right care at the right time. By identifying health needs early on, we can prevent or address potential health problems before they become more serious.

There are a number of systems and processes that can play a role in early identification and assessment, including healthcare screenings, chronic disease registries, public health reporting systems, and others. It is important to ensure that all these systems are working together effectively so that we can get a complete picture of an individual’s health status and provide tailored care accordingly.

Recognizing and recording individual’s current and emerging health care needs

Health screening is an important way to identify health needs early on. Health screenings are regular check-ups for specific medical conditions or groups of people who may be at risk or have not yet developed symptoms of the disease. They usually include a physical exam, laboratory tests, and sometimes diagnostic imaging (e.g., x-rays). For example, mammograms are used to screen women for breast cancer, while colonoscopies are used to screen people age 50 and older for colorectal cancer.

People with increasingly complex needs may require multiple visits or examinations when it comes time to assess their health needs. For example, someone who is receiving palliative care will need more than one assessment as their condition progresses.

Understanding the importance of early identification and assessment

Identifying health needs early on is key for preventing or managing health problems. When it comes to communicable diseases, for example, early identification can help slow the spread of infection by allowing vulnerable populations to gain access to vaccines and other treatments.

For people with chronic illnesses, identifying problems when they are still relatively mild has benefits both in terms of quality of life and long-term health outcomes. For example, people with diabetes are at risk of developing problems with their feet. If left untreated, these issues can lead to loss of limb or even death, but if identified early they can be addressed to avoid the more serious complications.

Early identification also allows healthcare providers to access services that might not otherwise be available, such as testing or vaccinations that might be in short supply or require particular expertise.

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Maintaining health and care records in line with requirements

Health and care records are an important part of the healthcare system. They contain information on:

  • An individual’s personal health and social care history
  • The treatment and support they receive from their healthcare providers, such as doctors, nurses, clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, and community services
  • Their current physical or mental state and needs, including any known allergies
  • Medical history, such as past illnesses or conditions, hereditary conditions, treatments received for those conditions, and family history.

Published guidance sets out the standards of information that should be included in health records. This includes details on ensuring patient confidentiality and the security of all records within an organization’s systems. Procedures should also be in place to protect privacy when transferring records between organizations, such as a GP and a hospital.

Maintaining health and care records helps healthcare providers keep tabs on what patients have been diagnosed with, the treatments they have received, or procedures that have been performed. These records can help track an individual’s medical history over time, as well as identify potential issues, such as drug allergies.

Advance care planning and end of life wishes

Advance care planning is a process of recording an individual’s wishes for their future healthcare. This could include preferences on how they wish to receive, or not receive, medical treatment should they become unable to make decisions about their own health care as a result of sickness or injury.

An advance directive is one way in which people can record their advance care planning wishes. This could be as simple as a note to self with instructions on how the individual would like to be cared for, or it may take the form of a more formal document.

It is also possible to record end-of-life wishes which indicate a person’s preferences for what they want to happen at the end of their life. For example, this could include whether they want to be resuscitated should their heart stop beating, or if they would like to remain on life support machines until death.

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