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KELS Assessment Information


KELS Target Population:

  • Because this assessment is used to determine a person's ability to function in basic living skills it is ideal for subjects in geriatric, acute care, in-patient psychiatric, cognitively disabling disorders such as Alzheimer Disease, TBI, and rehabilitation environments.


Scoring the KELS:

  • This test is designed to be administered by an occupational therapist. Score is based on questions asked as well as observations taken while administering the test. Specific instructions and questions are provided for the evaluator. These instructions should be given as written in the manual. Additional comments, conversation, and feedback should not be given during the assessment.
  • On the provided score sheet, there are two scoring categories- “Independent” an “Needs Assistance.” Specific criteria for determining patient’s scores are provided on each item as it is being administered. Boxes should be filled in completely. This is more visible then a check mark or an X in each box.
  • Scores are summarized at the end of the evaluation by assigning 1 point for “Needs Assistance,” excluding Work and Leisure where only ½ point is assigned for “Needs Assistance.” “Independent” and “Not Applicable” are counted as 0.
    • A score of 5 ½ or less indicates the client is capable of living independently. Total of 6 or more indicates the client needs assistance to living in the community. When the score has a range of 5 – 5 ½, the client has borderline skills for living independently in the community.
  • The final score is not written on the score sheet and is only used for the Occupational Therapist to make recommendations. A short summary note is written at the bottom of the score sheet by the occupational therapist, which can include observations throughout the administration of the test. Recommendations should also be included in this note.
KELS Score Sheet
Sample Score Sheet
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Strengths and Weaknesses of the KELS:

  • Strengths- Assessment can be easily transported in a three-ring binder, can be administered fairly quickly, easy scoring method, can be used in with many populations and settings, measures several areas that allow for a holistic view of the patient, ideally used in a multidisciplinary team, and standardized test that can be used to measure basic living skills
  • Weaknesses- Assessment measures what the client does and not what they want to do, does not measure skills in a natural environment, validated on small sample size, based on urban lifestyles so many items are scored as "Not Applicable" when working with a rural population




Validity and Reliability of the KELS:


  • Six research studies were completed on the KELS to establish reliability and validity. One such study compared the results of the KELS to an already established assessment, the Bay Area Functional Performance Evaluation (BaFPE). Sample sizes for these studies were relatively small (50 or less). More research needs to be done with larger sample sizes and examining more variables to further documents the effectiveness of the KELS.



Practical Application of Assessment Results:


  • The goal of KELS is to successfully integrate an individual into his or her environment. This assessment identifies the areas in which a person is able to perform and those in that the person needs assistance. KELS helps to match people with environments that they can be successful and motivated to complete daily living tasks.
  • Example: Mr. Jones, an active 72 y.o. has just been transferred to a sub acute facility after spending some time in a hospital due to a broken hip from a fall in the bathroom. His adult daughter has some concerns about Mr. Jones returning home alone. Mr. Jones insists he is fine and does not need to be put in a "home." He claims he is very active at his home and wishes to remain a member of his community. The KELS is administered to Mr. Jones by his occupational therapist and he received a score of 4 1/2. Though this score does indicate Mr. Jones is able to live independently, it is very close to the score that indicates he would needs some assistance living in his community. Based on this score, Mr. Jones, his daughter, and the therapeutic team found an assisted living facility that will allow Mr. Jones to stay active but get some assistance when he needs it.



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