Windshield Survey and Community Health Assessment

Community assessment is the initial step when designing and planning effective community projects and interventions. Community assessment is a systematic approach of getting acquainted with a community and the population by investigating factors that affect population health.

The investigation allows community health nurses to establish the risks and gaps as well as the strengths and capacities in the community. One of the observation tools used in community assessment is a windshield survey.

A community health nurse uses a windshield survey to evaluate possible needs in the community. A windshield is completed by driving through the community and assessing the current condition of the environment, people, physical set up, and housing.

Data gathered from a windshield survey allows a community health nurse to establish existing needs and opportunities for collaboration with local stakeholders to develop interventions, objectives, and goals to address the community needs. 

Overview of a Windshield Survey

A windshield survey is the systematic observation about a community made from a moving vehicle. It is whereby the community health nurse drives around an area/community and records his/her observations. Windshield surveys are recommended for areas are large in size and cannot by covered by walking.

These surveys allow you to make observations about the religious facilities, schools, shopping areas, open spaces, protection services (such as fire stations), transportation methods, human services (such as physician offices, and hospitals), and the general quality of life in the community.

The observer used his or her physical senses to capture the sense of the tone of the community, capture the essence of the community, and establish sectors that need further investigation.

A windshield survey is planned in advance and a proper data collection structure. The details about the community are often gathered on the basis of the community assessment goals developed before conducting the surveys.

Windshield surveys collected more sociological and physical details about a community. They prove first-hand information about a community since they observe the community directly.

A windshield survey is a time-efficient, economical approach of examining the community’s social environment. 

Significance of a Windshield Survey

Community participation is key during community assessment. One of the easiest ways to get a complete overview of a community is by conducting a windshield survey.

The survey also assists in relating different aspects of the community. Windshield surveys enable a community health nurse to develop targeted nursing care interventions for the individuals living within the community.

After conducting a windshield survey, you gain an understanding of the different aspects of the community including its social structure, resources, surrounding environment, and community relationship.  

 Conducting a Windshield Survey

Pre-Survey Requirements

Before conducting a windshield survey, it is key to first establish the observer (s). You are likely to obtain the best outcomes when the observers are a part of the planning team. An observer must understand the goals of the community assessment and the specific variables that they seek.

The structure and scope of the survey should also be established as well as the specific questions to guide the process. The questions should be specific such as how many public healthcare facilities are in the community?

The areas to be surveyed should also be predetermined and the focus should be on the areas that best reflect the components of the community that you seek to explore.

You should then decide the most appropriate day or season to conduct the survey. You can conduct more than one windshield survey to capture the difference between the community activities or conditions at different times. 

Train the individuals who are going to conduct the windshield survey. They should familiarize themselves with the purpose of the survey and the questions; create and utilize a checklist; should be unassuming; make notes of the observation; and discuss the results before proceeding.

Other guidelines to consider before starting a windshield survey is the use of navigation and maps; having a driver and observer on the team; driving at a moderate rate; driving on both minor and major routes; trying to be inconspicuous; and pulling over regularly to make and compare notes.

Conducting Survey

The team should start making observations once they reach the predetermined starting point in the community. The team can take videos and make written observations depending on their responsibilities.

To provide a detailed perspective of the community, navigation and photographs should also be added in the windshield survey.

Some of the community’s core details to be observed when conducting a windshield survey include the history, demographics, ethnicity, as values and belief systems of the community. For instance, observing temples, mosques, and churches provide an overview of the area’s values and belief system.

You can also make observations and record data about various community subsystems including the physical environment, health and social services, economy, transportation and safety, politics and government, communication, education, and recreation.

For instance, details about the community’s economy can include the different places of employment, industries, stores, and other development aspects observed in the area.

It can also include the different types of businesses available in the area and whether there is a mix of small and large businesses. 

Overall, a windshield survey helps a community health nurse to conduct a community assessment by driving through the community, observing the key areas of exploration, and documenting the findings. Prior to this survey, it is key to develop the structure and key questions to guide the survey.

After completing the survey, the data should be analyzed, conclusions drawn, and recommendations made especially regarding the appropriate interventions for the community. Check nursing paper writing service, Competing needs, Conflict resolution, and socio-cultural orientation.

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