Standardized Items, Scales Can Help Assess Quality of Life

March 19, 2018

Measuring quality of life for elders in post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) has always been a challenge. However, it is essential to ensuring individual residents’ comfort, dignity, and satisfaction and to identify opportunities for new or changing services. A new study, published in the March issue of JAMDA, establishes a set of standardized, self-reported items and scales to help assess quality of life and services for residents in this care setting. The authors also demonstrated that these scales are significantly related to how residents perceive facilities’ homelike quality.

In “Hearing the Voice of the Resident in Long Term Care Facilities – An Internationally Based Approach to Assessing Quality of Life,” the authors used the InterRAI Self-Report Quality of Life Survey for Long Term Care Facilities to assess residents’ perceptions about the quality of life and services in their facilities. They scored individual items based on the two most positive categories– “sometimes” and “always.” When these two categories were aggregated, the most positive items included: being alone when wished, deciding what clothes to wear, getting needed services, and being treated with dignity by staff. Respondents gave less positive responses to: staff knowing the resident’s life story, resident has enjoyable things to do on the weekends, and resident has people to do things with. The researchers used this data to establish a set of standardized, self-reported items, and five scales (social life, personal control, food, caring staff, and staff responsiveness) to assess the quality of life and services for residents in areas that mean the most to them.

The authors also found a strong correlation between residents seeing their facility as homelike and positive responses on this instrument. “In our work, facilities that are more homelike have a positive position on all five of the quality of life and services scales,” they said. At the same time, the author observed, the more that residents see their facility as being homelike, the more they are likely to recommend it to others.

Many facilities have a positive base on which to build when it comes to quality of life and services, the authors suggested. They hope that facilities as well as governments might use this instrument to monitor residents’ quality of life and make improvements and changes as appropriate.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Institute for Aging Research, Boston, MA; Katholieke Universitet, Leuven, Belgium; University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada; City of Helsinki Hospital, Helsinki, Finland; Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Care, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; Ann Arbor VA Healthcare Center, Ann Arbor, MI; and the Sampson Institute for Ageing Research, Cape Town, South Africa.

For more information on the findings above, and more, click here. To contact the researchers or JAMDA Editor for an interview contact


JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit for more information.

AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit for more information.