What is OPERAT?
OPERAT stands for the Older People’s External Residential Assessment Tool. It is a tool that older people can use to assess how well their local residential are meets their physical, cognitive and visual needs.
How does an OPERAT assessment work?
The tool is a visual checklist which is completed on location in a defined area. The area used in New Zealand is known as a mesh block, and usually contain about 30 properties, although there can be more or fewer. There are 20 items in OPERAT, each of which must be completed during the assessment. When the assessment is completed the results from the items assessed are used to calculate an overall score for the mesh block area. Scores are calculated for four subscales which capture: Natural Elements; Incivilities and Nuisance; Navigation and Mobility; and Territorial Functioning.
Do I need training to complete an assessment?
Massey University can provide training session for groups, please contact us for details. However, you can complete an assessment without training, once you have a thorough understanding of the guidelines in the OPERAT manual, available here. We recommend that you do a practice assessment either in the real world or using Google StreetView to understand what you are looking for.
How do I complete an assessment?
How do I find out the properties in the area I want to assess?
Before you start you will need to find the number of the mesh block you are interested in assessing, and a list of the properties to be assessed. To find these, click this link and follow the instructions.
Locating properties and the mesh block they are in:
- Enter an address you know in the area. As you enter the address, options will be displayed — choose the one you want. Alternatively, zoom the map in and click/tap on the property.
- A pop up will display the mesh block number, the number of residential properties within the mesh block, and the street addresses of all the properties within the block. The associated map will also show the mesh block boundary, and identify the individual residential properties within it.
- click ‘Print’ to print the assessment forms with this information filled in.
- If you have pre-printed copies of the assessment forms and don’t have a printer, enter the mesh block number and the number of properties within the block in the appropriate box at the top of page 1 of the assessment form, and then
- Enter the address or number/name of each property into the first column of the sheet for property level observations.
What if the number of houses is I see is different from the number on the assessment form?
If a property no longer exists or you can’t find it, cross it off your address list and reduce the count of the total number of properties at the top of the form. This figure should be the actual number of properties you were able to assess.
If there is a new property, simply add it to the total number of properties at the top of the form and add the address to the first column of the property level assessment sheet.
If it is not possible to find a property or you cannot see if from the road you should exclude from the assessment. Be sure to change the number of properties at the top of the form to reflect the actual number of properties you assessed.
Can I use OPERAT in rural locations
Yes, OPERAT has been designed to be used in both urban and rural areas. But bear in mind that in very rural areas can be very large and cover several widely spaced roads, so it may be necessary to complete an assessment using a vehicle.
What if residents or other people ask what I’m doing?
As you will be assessing individual properties, it’s natural that people will be interested in what you are doing. If this happens, provide reassurance that you are undertaking an assessment of the local residential environment (as part of a research study, if appropriate) to help find ways in which the environment could be improved for the benefit of older people and other residents. If you are undertaking research on behalf of an organisation, we suggest that you have some form of ID with you. If you are conducting a large study on behalf of an organization you may consider informing the police in the area.
Do I have to complete OPERAT on paper?
Currently only a paper version is available but we are working on an app to use on mobile phones and tablets.
I have completed an assessment but I’m having trouble with the scoring, what do I do?
Please feel free to contact us.