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Frequently Asked Questions

What is OPERAT?

OPERAT stands for the Older People’s External Residential Assessment Tool. It is an observational environmental auditing tool to assess whether the local residential environment in rural or urban areas is suitable for the varying physical, cognitive and visual needs of older people.

How does an OPERAT assessment work?

The tool is a visual checklist which is completed on location in a postcode area. Postcodes usually contain about 30 properties, although there can be more or fewer. There are 17 items in OPERAT, each of which must be completed during the assessment. When the assessment is completed the results from the 17 items are used to calculate an overall score for the postcode 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?

The Centre for Innovative Ageing 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. We recommend that you do a practice assessment either in the real world or using Google StreetView to understand what you are looking for. We are in the process of developing online training materials, which will be available shortly.

How do I complete an assessment?

First, read through the OPERAT manual and make sure you understand how to fully complete an assessment. If you are unsure or have any questions, please feel free to contact us.  When the assessment is complete, you can enter your results online.  You'll need to provide your name and email address and the postcode of the area you have assessed. Then simply enter the scores you have calculated and submit them.

How do I work out a postcode area?

At the moment, this method can only be used in the UK. You can get postcode area information by entering a postcode into a property website search engine. For example, in the Zoopla (www.zoopla.co.uk) or Rightmove (www.rightmove.co.uk). Following is an example of how to use Zoopla to find a postcode area:

  • Go to the website: http://www.zoopla.co.uk/house-prices/
  • Enter the postcode you wish to assess into the “House Prices and Values” search box and click “search”
  • Scroll down the page, and at the top of the results sheet, the name of the street will be displayed with the number of houses within that postcode. The results sheet lists all addresses within the postcode.
  • Enter the number of properties within the postcode in the appropriate box at the top of page 1 of the assessment form.
  • Enter the address or number/name of the property into the first column of the sheet for property level observations. Check for additional pages of results (e.g. when there are more than 40 properties listed), and copy all to the sheet.

What if the number of houses is different from the property website search engine results?

If a property no longer exists please exclude it from 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.

What do I do if I cannot find a property or cannot see it from the road?

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 postcodes can be very long (e.g. a mile) and 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 organisation you may consider inform 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.