Measuring Relational Care in Nursing Homes: Psychometric Evaluation of the Relational Care Scale

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Background and Purpose:

The Relational Care Scale (RCS) is a Canadian evaluative instrument designed to measure nursing home residents' perceptions of care aides' relational abilities. Care aides' abilities to be reliable and empathetic with nursing home residents are very important determinants of quality of care, but few instruments are designed specifically for residents or focus exclusively on these determinants. Initially developed and tested in metropolitan teaching-affiliated nursing homes in Ontario, we expanded testing by reevaluating the psychometric properties of the RCS in 5 rural nursing homes in British Columbia.


There were 62 residents living in 5 rural nursing homes who completed 3 instruments: the RCS under investigation, the Experiences in Close Relationships-Relationship Structures (ECR-RS) questionnaire to test for convergent validity, and the Lubben Social Network Scale-6 (LSNS-6) to test for discriminant validity.


The reliability of the RCS was strongly supported (Cronbach's alpha = .90, item-total correlation > .77). Consistent with previous testing, a unidimensional internal structure was extracted. A moderate to strong correlation between the RCS and the Anxiety and Avoidance subscales of the ECR-RS supported convergent validity of the instrument. Last, partial support was obtained for the discriminant validity of the RCS.


The RCS was easy to use for both residents and researchers. Expanded testing demonstrated its recurring reliability and validity.

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