Prospects and pitfalls: Use of the RAI-HC assessment by the Department of Veterans Affairs for home care clients

Catherine Hawes*, Brant E. Fries, Mary L. James, Marylou Guihan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Purpose: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has adopted two functional assessment systems that guide care planning: one for nursing home residents (the Resident Assessment Instrument [RAI]) and a compatible one for home care clients (RAI-HC). The purpose of this article is to describe the RAI-HC (often referred to as the Minimum Data Set-Home Care or MDS-HC) and its uses and offer lessons learned from implementation experiences in other settings. Design and Methods: We reviewed implementation challenges associated both with the RAI and the RAI-HC in the United States, Canada, and other adopter countries, and drew on these to suggest lessons for the Department of Veterans Affairs as well as other entities implementing the RAI-HC. Results: Beyond its clinical utility, there are a number of evidence-based uses for the assessment system. The resident-level data can be aggregated and analyzed, and scales identify clinical conditions and risk for various types of negative outcomes. In addition, the data can be used for other programmatic and research purposes, such as determining eligibility, setting payment rates for contract care, and evaluating clinical interventions. At the same time, there are a number of implementation challenges the Department of Veterans Affairs and other organizations may face. Implications: Policy makers and program managers in any setting, including state long-term-care programs, who wish to implement an assessment system must anticipate and address a variety of implementation problems with a clear and consistent message from key leadership, adequate training and clinical support for assessors, and appropriate planning and resources for data systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-387
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Home health
  • MDS-HC
  • Minimum data set

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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