Background: despite evidence that needs assessment of older people can improve survival and function when linked to effective long‐term management, there is no structured needs assessment tool in widespread use. The Camberwell Assessment of Need for the Elderly is a new tool not previously evaluated in primary care. It includes the views of patients, carers and health professionals, enabling a direct comparison of their perspectives.
Aim: to conduct a feasibility study of Camberwell Assessment of Need for the Elderly in primary care and to compare the needs identified by patients, carers and health professionals.
Methods: we selected a random sample of 1:20 of all people aged 75 and over from four general practices in inner‐city and suburban north‐west London. We interviewed the patients, their informal carers and lead health professionals using the Camberwell Assessment of Need for the Elderly schedule.
Results: 55 (65.5%) of 84 patients, 15 (88.2%) of 17 carers and all of 55 health professionals completed interviews. The patients' three most frequently identified unmet needs were with ‘eyesight/hearing’, ‘psychological distress’ and ‘incontinence’. The carers' three most frequently identified unmet needs were with ‘mobility’, ‘eyesight/hearing’ and ‘accommodation’ and the health professionals' were with ‘daytime activities’, ‘accommodation’ and ‘mobility’. κ tests comparing patient and health professional assessments showed poor or fair agreement with 18 of the 24 variables and moderate or good agreement with six. None showed very good agreement.
Conclusion: the Camberwell Assessment of Need for the Elderly schedule is feasible to use in primary care and can identify perceived needs not previously known about by health professionals. A shorter version of Camberwell Assessment of Need for the Elderly focusing on areas of poor agreement and high levels of need might be useful in the assessment of needs in older people in primary care.