Brief Report| Volume 21, ISSUE 12, P1992-1996, December 2020

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Validation of the MEDSAIL Tool to Screen for Capacity for Safe and Independent Living Among Nursing Home Residents



      Capacity for safe and independent living (SAIL) refers to an individual's ability to solve problems associated with everyday life and perform activities necessary for living independently. Little guidance exists on the assessment of capacity for SAIL among nursing home residents. As a result, capacity for SAIL is not fully considered in the development of discharge plans to ensure safety and independence in the community. We reasoned that this problem could be addressed with the Making and Executing Decisions for Safe and Independent Living (MEDSAIL) tool, developed to screen for capacity for SAIL among community-dwelling older adults. In this report, we describe findings on the validity of the MEDSAIL when used with nursing home residents.


      Prospective cross-sectional pilot study.

      Setting and Participants

      Twenty-four residents of a Veterans Health Affairs Community Living Center (CLC; nursing home); exclusion criteria were cognitive impairment too severe to complete the protocol, diagnosis of serious mental illness or developmental disability, inability to hear, or inability to communicate verbally.


      Participants completed 2 assessments: the MEDSAIL interview administered by a research assistant and the criterion standard capacity interview administered by a geriatric psychiatrist. We examined internal consistency, divergent validity, and criterion-based validity.


      Five of 7 MEDSAIL scenarios approximated acceptable levels of internal consistency (α >0.70). MEDSAIL scores were highly positively correlated with criterion standard capacity determination (0.88, P = .001), and the Wilcoxon rank-sum test statistic for the 2 assessments was also statistically significant (P = .001).

      Conclusions and Implications

      MEDSAIL has promise as a user-friendly brief screening tool for use by nursing home staff to understand resident capacity for SAIL. This information can be used in the development of discharge plans to keep the resident safe and independent in the community. In addition, tailoring the MEDSAIL scenarios specifically to the nursing home setting may further enhance the tool's validity and utility in this new application.


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