OBJECTIVES: To evaluate measures of dementia care environments by comparing a special care facility (SCF) with traditional institutional facilities (TIFs).
DESIGN: A cross-sectional comparative study of nursing home environments conducted as part of a longitudinal study on quality of life for residents with dementia.
SETTING: Twenty-four traditional nursing homes and one special care facility.
PARTICIPANTS: One SCF with six distinct environments, 24 TIFs with 45 distinct environments, and 88 family members.
MEASUREMENTS: Therapeutic Environment Screening Scale—2+ (TESS-2+); Special Care Unit Environmental Quality Scale (SCUEQS), a subset of the TESS-2+ items; Composite Above Average Quality Score (CAAQS), a composite score of all items on the TESS-2+; and Models of Care Instrument (MOCI).
RESULTS: The SCUEQS did not detect a significant difference between the SCF and the TIFs (30.0 vs 27.2, P=.28). The CAAQS detected a significant difference between the SCF and the TIFs, whereby the SCF environments were rated as having above-average quality in 71.4% of the domains, compared with 57.3% for the TIF environments (95% confidence interval (CI) for difference=2.6–25.6%, P=.02). Using the MOCI, SCF families were 1.8 times as likely to rate the SCF as a home or resort versus a hospital as TIF families rating TIFs (95% CI for odds ratio=1.5–2.1, P<.001).
CONCLUSION: The TESS-2+ CAAQS differentiated between physical environments better than the more established SCUQES. The MOCI distinguished between environments using a more holistic approach to measurement. The availability of environmental measures that are able to discriminate between specialized and traditional long-term care settings will facilitate future outcome-based research.