Related Stories

Review of quality measures and instruments available to promote assisted living’s integration into the evolving healthcare landscape

Researchers from the University of North Carolina’s Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and School of Social Work, with funding from The Center for Excellence in Assisted Living (CEAL), completed a review of measures and instruments useful to maintain and improve quality in assisted living, and which may help assisted living providers become an even more valuable service choice for aging Americans as healthcare options change.

The researchers reviewed measures and instruments suitable for quality improvement in five domains important in assisted living: person-centered care; medication management; care coordination/ transitions, resident/patient outcomes, and workforce.  Not many tools have been developed specifically for assisted living, so the review also included those used in other health and long-term care settings. After conducting a comprehensive review, they recommended 96 measures and instruments.

“The tools we identified can be used across the range of assisted living communities, and the sheer number of them allows providers to choose the ones most appropriate to their setting and priorities” said Sheryl Zimmerman, Ph.D., who led the effort.

After consulting other experts and conducting extensive literature reviews, the team rated the quality and applicability of more than 250 tools. The final report summarizes the highest scoring ones and provides a description and resources for each one, by domain. This way, an organization looking to assess their practices in any of the five domains can select tools to evaluate and improve their efforts.

“Assisted living communities can use the report as a resource to identify measures and instruments that will assist them in quality improvement efforts” said Randy Slikkers, CEAL Executive Director.  Lindsay Schwartz, Ph.D., CEAL Board Chair added “Data collection and outcome measures are a vital part of quality improvement, and essential for participating in coordinated care efforts across the healthcare industry.  A lack of measures and instruments could become a barrier to assisted living’s full participation in health care reform efforts.  This report will help providers overcome that barrier.”   As a follow-up effort, CEAL and UNC plan to use this report to develop a resource for AL providers to easily choose and use the best tool for their organization and purpose.

CEAL is a collaborative of 10 national organizations dedicated to advancing excellence in assisted living. One of CEAL’s priorities is to identify tools that can be used not only for quality improvement, but also to communicate services and outcomes so they may be more readily involved in Managed Care Organizations, Accountable Care Organizations, and other organizations that require data to be shared across settings.

The material can be accessed at and also

Sheps Center Contact, Sonya Sutton,; 919-962-4714.