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Transitioning Residents from Nursing Facilities to Community Living: Who Wants to Leave?

(See editorial comments by Dr. Rosalie Kane, pp 163–165).


  • Preliminary findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, Orlando, Florida, November 2005.

Address correspondence to Christy M. Nishita, PhD, Andrus Gerontology Center, University of Southern California, 3715 McClintock Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90089. E-mail:


OBJECTIVES: To examine nursing facility residents' or their legal proxies' perspectives on transitioning out of nursing facilities by assessing residents' perceptions of their ability to live more independently, their preferences regarding leaving the facility, and the feasibility of transitioning with community support.

DESIGN: Analysis of survey findings from the California Nursing Facility Transition Screen (CNFTS).

SETTING: Eight nursing facilities in southern California.

PARTICIPANTS: All chronic maintenance, long-stay residents receiving Medi-Cal (California's Medicaid program) were eligible for the study (n=218). Of these, 121 (56%) self-consenting residents or legal proxies were interviewed. No presumptions were made as to which residents were appropriate candidates for transition based on health or functional capacity.

MEASUREMENTS: CNFTS contains 27 open- and closed-ended questions on preference, ability, and feasibility of transitioning.

RESULTS: Twenty-three percent of residents and proxies believed that the resident had the ability to transition; 46% indicated a preference to transition; and after discussing potential living arrangements and services, 33% thought that transitioning would be feasible. Of those who consented to allow access to their Minimum Data Set 2.0 (MDS) information (n=41; 34% of the sample), agreement in the assessment of preference was found in 39% of cases.

CONCLUSION: Transition decisions are complex and include preference, as well as perceptions of the resident's ability to live in a more independent setting and the feasibility of transitioning. Compared with the MDS, the screen identified a higher proportion of residents who want to transition, suggesting that a systematic approach to assessing the complex decision to transition is needed.