Valid and standardised methods for recording care needs across European countries do not form part of daily routine. This presents a challenge for meaningful comparison of nursing home residents and for evaluating care given in these settings. With EU funding of the project SHELTER (Services and health for elderly in long term care), researchers validated an existing instrument for comprehensive care needs assessment, in particular for residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs). The minimum data set (MDS) makes available standardised essential clinical and functional status measures for comparing resident characteristics, measures of quality of care and resident outcomes. Data generated can be used to inform a system of outcome management and quality assurance for older recipients of long-term care. To validate the MDS-LTCF as a methodology for comparison, SHELTER members determined its applicability to the wider European population. As such, they assessed linguistic validity for various items in the translated versions of the instrument, and evaluated each item’s test-retest and inter-rater reliability. The MDS-LTCF was then implemented on a large scale and results were fed into a newly created cross-national database. This tool facilitates the measure of resident outcomes, identifying outcome predictors, the development of eligibility criteria and grouping of resource utilisation, service delivery monitoring and analyses of quality of care indicators. Importantly, it also establishes a common language for countries to analyse, understand and manage a critical sector of the healthcare industry. Validation of the MDS-LTCF supports the work of clinicians, researchers and decision-makers. It reduces related public spending and the improved allocation of resources for the benefit of older people as well as of national healthcare systems. Project outcomes were disseminated through publications, symposia and SHELTER’s final conference.
Healthcare, elderly, long-term care, SHELTER, minimum data set, LTCF