This review provides an overview of the measurement of quality of life (QoL) in social care, or social care-related QoL. Because the field is wide, this overview focuses on older people.
Outcome can be complex to measure in social care, because several types of outcomes of both the user and any family carers may be relevant; these may also be affected by multiple factors. Measuring quality of life is one of several components for assessing the effectiveness of interventions. Maintaining people’s broader quality of life is also a potentially important outcome to consider ensuring that the person can ‘live well’ and that their care and support up until their death meets their needs. In reflection of the wider goals and provision of social care, compared to health care, client-based outcome measures need to be more multidimensional than narrower health-related or disease- related QoL measures reflecting the impact of circumstances and interventions on users’ wider lives. However, given overall lack of agreement on concepts or measures of social care and QoL outcomes, investigators have tended to use separate measures of social involvement and/or life satisfaction as indicators of QoL as well as measures of morale, health status, anxiety/depression, physical functioning, and needs. There has been a heavy emphasis on health status, physical and mental functioning. There are also several technical issues to consider when choosing and administering a measure of QoL. These are described but are not intended to be daunting to the researcher. Few measures satisfy all psychometric criteria perfectly. This overview is intended to be an informative summary of the main steps involved in selecting and testing a measurement scale.