Windshield surveys are systematic observations made from either a moving vehicle or on foot (walking survey) to better understand a community in general and to assess community strengths, resources, and needs. This assessment is designed to assist the nurse traveling around a community based on a geographical area or neighborhood. The survey identifies objective data related to people, places, and social systems. The information is utilized to identify trends, stability, and changes that may affect the health of the individuals living in the community or community as a whole. The Windshield Survey instructions were developed from the assessment tool from Hunt (2013).
1. Define the community and its boundaries –Describe the geographical community. Where is the community located? Describe the boundaries (natural, human-made, political boundaries).
2. Throughout the windshield survey, maintain your personal safety. Prepare road maps, GPS, or identify your route in advance. Ensure your vehicle or public transportation is safe and/or remains locked. If at any time during your route you feel unsafe, leave the area. You may wish to have another person drive to allow you to make notes safely or utilize public transportation. At times you may wish to leave the vehicle to investigate areas on foot. While doing so maintain your personal safety and perhaps take another person with you.
3. People – Who do you see on the street (women, children, men)? What are the ages of people out in the community? How are they dressed? What are they doing? How would you categorize the residents: upper, upper middle, middle, lower class? How did you come to this conclusion? Is there any evidence of disease, alcohol or substance abuse, mental illness? How did you come to this conclusion?
4. Health Services – Where are the major health institutions located? What health institutions may be necessary for a community of this size but are not located in the geographical area designated by this community? Are there social agencies, clinics, hospitals, dentists, mental health services, or other health care providers?
5. Health Threats – Are there geographical features that may pose a threat to health or safety? What plants or animals could pose a threat to health? Are there environmental threats such as major industrial areas? Are there preventative measures in place? For example, if there is an irrigation or water canal running through the area, are there fences or other protections in place?
6. Culture – Is there evidence of diversity in the community? Are the people out in the community African American, White, Asian, or other ethnicity or race? What indicators are there of cultural diversity in the community (signs, buildings, churches, stores etc.)? Are there cultural specific or ethnic health care practitioners present in the area? What types of cultural services were noted?
7. Housing – What is the quality of the housing? How old are the houses? Are there single or multifamily dwellings? Are there signs of disrepair and decay? If so, explain. Are there vacant dwellings? If so explain.
8. Social Systems – Are there schools in the area, what type, condition? What churches, synagogues, and mosques are located in the community? Are there community centers or other services for the community present? Does the community have public transportation with accessible service? What supermarkets and stores are available in the neighborhoods? Is there evidence of police and fire protection?
9. Analysis – Based on the evidence collected during the windshield survey, what are your overall impressions of the community? Describe the strengths of the community, resources of the community, and needs of the community in relation to health and safety.
10. Paper must include reference to a minimum of 2 current (within the past 5 years) scholarly resources.
11. Paper must be in APA 6th edition format and contain a title and reference page. The body of the paper must be 3-5 pages in length (excluding the title and reference pages).
12. Rules of grammar, spelling, word usage, and punctuation are consistent with formal written work.