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The aim of this study was to develop an observational scale to measure the social well-being of nursing home residents, by assessing not only the social behaviour of the resident towards others, but also the behaviour of others towards the resident.Traditionally, aspects of the social well-being of nursing home residents are assessed according to the social activities and interactions where they engage. Although these are important indicators of social well-being, other important indicators may include the positive social behaviour of others towards the resident (e.g. confirming the resident's behaviour or showing affection).A cross-sectional descriptive survey design.From the perspective of human social needs, items relating to fulfilment of the needs for affection, behavioural confirmation and status were formulated and tested. This took place in three nursing homes in the Netherlands that provide somatic and psycho-geriatric care.The study (sample n = 306) yielded a short and reliable scale, the Social Well-being Of Nursing home residents-scale, with separate sub-scales (three items each) for fulfilment of the three social needs.These first results indicate that overall social well-being and its sub-dimensions can be measured with this new observational scale, although its validity needs to be confirmed. Including the social behaviour of others towards the resident may have provided a more comprehensive measure of the social well-being of nursing home residents.This measure may help to underscore the importance of the social behaviour of others (e.g. caregivers) for the overall social well-being of residents and with that assist care-providers in nursing homes to improve the social well-being of the residents.