The emphasis on community care means closure of the long-stay institutions for people with intellectual disability. Studies have indicated that older people with intellectual disability in particular may not be adequately cared for because of poor monitoring of their changing needs and inadequate provision of services. The use of rating instruments to monitor changes, and to predict outcome or needs in this population may help to improve care by assisting with planning and projection of service requirements. In 1991, all residents of a long-stay hospital for people with intellectual disability were assessed using the Disability Assessment Schedule (DAS). Five years later, the 1991 scores of the older residents (aged > 50 years) were reviewed and compared under three outcome groups: in-patients, discharged and deceased. Furthermore, all older people resident in the hospital in 1996 were reassessed using the DAS. Out of the 144 older clients resident in 1991, five years later, 78 were still in-patients, 38 had been discharged into the community and 28 were deceased. In 1991, the deceased group had the greatest problems with continence and symbolic behaviour, while the discharged group had the greatest problems with self-help, vision, hearing, communication, social interaction, echolalia and repetitive speech. In comparison with 1991, the 1996 DAS scores of older residents showed that there were increasing problems with vision, hearing, communication, behaviour and symbolic activities. The present study suggested that the DAS is a useful instrument for monitoring change and predicting outcome in older people with intellectual disability.