About health and well-being needs assessment

Defining health and well-being needs assessment and its purpose

NICE defines a health needs assessment as ‘a systematic method for reviewing the health issues facing a population, leading to agreed priorities and resource allocation that will improve health and reduce inequalities’ (Health needs assessment: a practical guide, NICE, 2005.)

A health needs assessment (HNA), more appropriately now called a health and well-being needs assessment (HWBNA), is an essential part of planning and commissioning health care and other services and support to promote well-being. It builds up a clear baseline of current needs and services so that decisions can be made about how to reduce any mismatch between what is needed and what is provided.

The work provides an opportunity to make services more responsive to needs, to identify newly-emerging needs, to take account of the increasing knowledge base about effective interventions, and to harness the interest and experience of different stakeholders. The end result should be agreed action that is designed to improve outcomes, in this case for children and young people in contact with the youth justice system.

The NICE guide includes sections on the benefits and challenges of needs assessment, and on planning action for change. Case studies include examples from both community and secure settings, with summary points for each of the five stages identified for needs assessment work. The stages are about getting going, identifying needs, assessing priorities, action planning, and reviewing progress.

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