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Public Health Nursing Practice Manual

Guidance for the Public Health Nursing Assessment*


Family Unit

Who is Assessed?


  • Complete a separate PHN Assessment for each “family”. A “family is an individual or group of individuals who live under the same roof or on the same property and who consider themselves a “family” or who act as a “family”. In determining who is a family member, the PHN should consider the extent to which the members share physical facilities and the extent to which they are psychosocially and financially interdependent.

  • The PHN uses professional judgment in making the determination of “family”. If a visitor to the household is not considered part of the family unit, do not include the visitor on the assessment form. Document services provided to a visitor on a progress note and file in the “one visit” file.

  • The PHN should attempt to do an assessment for each member even if the member is absent using nursing judgment. History may be obtained from another household member and documented for a household member. The PHN should document who is providing the history for a given client. If a specific item can not be assessed because the assessment is being conducted outside of the home (office/clinic, telephone, or other), leave section blank and write an explanation in the comments section at the bottom of the page. If client does not want to answer a specific question, mark delined.

  • Every attempt should be made to do a home visit on every referral in order to do a complete assessment. Completing the assessment entirely on the phone is not acceptable if the client is willing to have a home visit. Every referral should generate a PHN Assessment except if the case is closed, transferred, inaccessible to the nurse (such as in jail), or returned to referral source before the PHN makes contact with the client.

  • If the nurse makes contact with the client but is unable to do an assessment, she/he will go to the encounter/disposition

tab in the NPMS and mark “closed” under the disposition section indicating the reason that is applicable.

FV (Family Violence)

  • Ask any member who is age 12 or over if there are any concerns about family violence. Check “no” or “yes” as appropriate. If you suspect there may be a problem based on your observation and assessment, check “susp”. The nurse can assess children age 11 or under according to her/his judgment. The nurse can ask the child separately, apart from other household members according to her/his judgment. The nurse can use the following questions at her/his discretion to assess an individual based on professional judgment at the time of assessment.

  • Start with these statements “Family violence is a common problem. Statistics show that every 3 minutes a woman is battered. Preventing injury and violence is one of the ten high priority public health issues in the United States”, then ask:

° ° °

Has this problem touched your life in any way? How so? Have you ever called 911 for help? Have you had to ask for help from the police or neighbors? Have you been hit, kicked, punched, or otherwise hurt by someone in the past year?

*See NPMS manual for detailed instructions on completing the PHN Assessment module.

© 2007 LAC DPH Public Health Nursing


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