RAM-OP: Rapid Assessment Method for Older People

Amillen explains the visual acuity test to an older man in Tanzania (c) Pascale Fritsch/HelpAge International

(c) Pascale Fritsch/HelpAge International

Amillen explains the visual acuity test to an older man in Tanzania

 
When disasters strike, older people are frequently neglected, especially when it comes to nutrition. Humanitarian actors tend to focus their activities on children and women of childbearing age, not taking into account or addressing the nuances and specific needs of older people.
 
Older people’s needs are quite specific. When it comes to food and nutrition, they may find relief rations are inappropriate to their tastes, have problem digesting or chewing food or they may simply not be able to reach distributions or transport the goods home once there. The end result is that older people are at great risk of malnutrition in humanitarian contexts. However, their specific needs are rarely assessed.

How can RAM-OP help?

The Rapid Assessment Method for Older People (RAM-OP) is a solution to fill this data gap. It is a thorough, quick, simple, low-cost tool that allows humanitarian and development workers to obtain valuable information on older people specific needs, including their nutritional status, through a house to house survey. 
 
Developed by HelpAge International in collaboration with Valid International and Brixton Health, and with funding from Humanitarian Innovation Fund, the method is so quick because it requires a sample size of just 192 (regardless of the size of the population to survey) and the process can be achieved in just two weeks, including training and data collection, entry and analysis. 
 
Those surveyed are asked about their eating habits and the diversity of their diet, their income and family size, and their access to sanitation and safe drinking water. They are screened for mental health problems such as dementia, checked for acute and chronic diseases and disabilities, and their vision is tested.
 
Anteneh and Emagnineh knock on doors in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to collect data (c) Pascale Fritsch/HelpAge International

(c) Pascale Fritsch/HelpAge International

Anteneh and Emagnineh knock on doors in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to collect data

 
After trials in urban and rural settings in Tanzania and Ethiopia, it was found that RAM-OP is as precise as existing survey tools, but cheaper, quicker to implement and encompassing a wider range of indicators. 
 
We aim to convince humanitarian actors that it is possible, not expensive and even easy to assess the needs of older people. With evidence of their vulnerabilities, older people should become more visible to all, including governments and donors, and be targeted by specific interventions.
 
RAM-OP is designed to be used by governments, UN agencies, and national and international NGOs, and it does not have to be restricted to humanitarian contexts – it can also be used in development settings. 
 
The RAM-OP package
 
If you have any further questions about RAM-OP, please get in touch with HelpAge's Health and Nutrition Adviser Dr Juma Khudonazarov.
 
Find out more:
 

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Useful downloads

RAM-OP manual (2.3mb) 

RAM-OP workshop minutes (280kb)

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