Visual functioning in nursing home residents: information in client records

J Clin Nurs. 2012 Jul;21(13-14):1913-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2012.04128.x.


Aim and objectives: To improve (eye)care in nursing homes by reporting and assessing visual functioning to enhance professional caregivers' awareness of visual problems.

Background: Older adults experience visual problems owing to biological ageing or eye disease. In the Netherlands, the prevalence of visual impairments is the highest in the subgroup of nursing home residents (41.3%). These impairments influence quality of life in terms of limiting daily activities and participation in social activities. Furthermore, 63% of visual problems are defined as 'avoidable blindness'. For this reason, screening of visual functioning in the nursing home is of major importance. Moreover, visual functioning should also be taken into account to prevent the incidence of falls.

Design: A field study on recorded information of visual functioning and visual assessment in nursing homes.

Methods: Assessment of visual functioning of 259 residents in nursing homes. Subsequently, recorded information in client files is related to the assessment outcome.

Results: Only in 101 (39%) of the 259 client records was some information on visual functioning found in client files. Whether a prescription for new glasses was dispensed made no difference in reporting on visual functioning in the client record. In more than half of the cases assessed as 'low vision or blindness', no information about visual functioning was found. Furthermore, no information was found in 31% (80/259) cases of suspected visual problems (referrals). A significant proportion of client records (p < 0.05) showed no recorded information in cases of referral for further check-up.

Conclusions: In this study, one-third of nursing homes residents have visual problems, needing examination by an ophthalmologist. Problems with visual functioning should be assessed and captured in client records. Awareness of residents' visual functioning is a prerequisite for adapting basic daily care to the residents' needs.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Inpatients*
  • Medical Records*
  • Netherlands
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Vision, Low / physiopathology*