Potential depression

Percentage of long term care residents with potential depression. (see data dictionary)

What do you see?

  • Looking at these results, are there differences between categories? Over time? Between zones?

Whether you’re a resident, family member, provider, or health system administrator, thinking about the characteristics and needs of the population served is important and can start or inform conversations and lead to solutions for improved quality of healthcare.

Understanding “potential depression”

Information in this chart comes from the Depression Rating Scale (DRS) (Burrows et al., 2000) and shows the prevalence of long term care residents with potential depression.

The Depression Rating Scale is a tool used to screen for depression among long term care residents. The frequency of a range of symptoms displayed by residents is evaluated during a 30-day time period using a scale of 0 to 2. The symptoms assessed include:

  • Use of negative statements,
  • Persistent anger with self and others,
  • Expression of unrealistic fears,
  • Repetitive health complaints,
  • Repetitive anxious complaints,
  • Sad or worried facial expressions, and
  • Tearfulness (crying or close to crying).

The frequency of each depressive symptom is calculated, resulting in an overall score that ranges from 0 to 14. A score of 3 or greater may indicate a potential or actual problem with depression and that further assessment and care planning should be completed.

This chart shows the percentage of long term care residents with no depressive symptoms (score of 0), some depressive symptoms (score of 1 or 2), and potential depression (score of 3 or more).

The information in this chart can best inform system-level planning for quality improvement, program development, and resource allocation. This is because this data, when reported at an aggregate level, provides a description of the population that requires services in relation to potential depression. It does not describe the quality of care or services provided at a site.

Considerations when viewing the results

When thinking about this information, providers and leaders can consider a number of things to better understand these results. Some questions they should consider before taking action include:

  • How would you describe the prevalence of long term care residents in Alberta living with potential depression? What might the proportion of long term care residents with potential depression mean for program planning? Quality improvement? Resource allocation?
  • What are some challenges staff face to identifying depression? How can cognitive impairment make this more difficult?
  • What types of care, supports, and services are appropriate for residents with potential depression to ensure quality of life and safety?

The Health Quality Council of Alberta uses the Alberta Quality Matrix for Health as a way of organizing information and thinking around the complexity of the healthcare system. This measure can be used as input to assess the emergency department’s performance in these dimensions of quality:


Dimensions of Quality

  • Acceptability 
  • Accessibility 
  • Appropriateness 
  • Effectiveness 
  • Efficiency 
  • Safety