eNews | Fall 2016
We are thrilled to join the Department of Sociology & Gerontology in welcoming the Fall 2016 entering class of 14 gerontology graduate students. For information about all our graduate students and their interests, visit the Meet our Students pages on the Scripps Gerontology Center website. 

New students photo above (and their programs), from left to right: Morgan Liddic (MGS), Anjali B. K. (MGS), Korijna Valenti (PhD), Na Sun (MGS), Oksana Dikhtyar (PhD), Nader Mehri (PhD), Wendy DeLeon ( MGS), Pallavi Timilsina (MGS), Candidus Nwakasi (PhD), Meghan Young (MGS), Nytasia Hicks (PhD), Keren Mabisi (MGS), Amanda Horne (MGS), Nancy Malay (PhD).

Suzanne Kunkel, PhD Executive Director
New students, new staff,
new grants-oh, my!

We are off  to an extraordinary start for the 2016-2017 academic year. Check out the stories about all of the new people and projects at Scripps. Don't miss the feature about our newly launched Alumni Advisory Committee. As always, let us know if you want further information.
Grant to expand Miami's Opening Minds through Art program

The artists  projects help caregiving staff and family members see people with memory loss in a new light, thereby helping to promote person-centered care.
Opening Minds through Art (OMA) has been awarded a grant from the Ohio Department of Medicaid to expand its award-winning program in the state. 

The $717,852 grant from the Ohio Department of Medicaid allows nursing homes to apply for startup funding, and qualified nursing homes will receive up to $3,500 over a one-year period to cover initial training expenses and art supplies. 

"The purpose of the project is to put OMA in more nursing facilities in Ohio so the state can serve as the national model of quality-of- care improvement through creative arts," said Elizabeth "Like" Lokon, OMA founder and director. 

link to http___miamioh.edu_cas_academics_centers_scripps_news-events_2016_08_oma-grant.html

$1.4 Million grant awarded for research about older learners

Phyllis Cummins_ Senior Research Scholar_ Scripps Gerontology Center
Phyllis Cummins
Senior Research Scholar
Scripps Gerontology Center
Miami University's Scripps Gerontology Center is the recipient of a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The money will be used to understand the factors that support older learners in their ability to complete training and education programs. 

"Our research focus is community college students ages 40-64," said Phyllis Cummins, Senior Research Scholar at Scripps. "The age group is an important component of Ohio's labor force and an under-studied group in terms of education and labor market outcomes." 

Cummins is primary researcher of the project, Mapping Barriers to Community College Completion among Older Learners: Identifying Malleable Factors to Improve Student Outcomes. 

She said middle-aged and older workers represent a substantial segment of the labor force, and their primary vehicle to improved employment prospects is education. More than 15 percent of students at Ohio's 23 community colleges are older learners.

link to_ http___miamioh.edu_cas_academics_centers_scripps_news-events_2016_06_cummins-1.4-award-2016.html

Grant to improve quality of life for Ohio's nursing home residents

l-r, Kimberly VanHaitsma, Associate Professor of Nursing, Pennsylvania State University; Katherine Abbott, Assistant Professor of Sociology & Gerontology and Research Fellow, Miami University Scripps Gerontology Center, Jane Straker, Director of Research, Miami University Scripps Gerontology Center,  Jerry Gannod, Chair and Professor of Computer Science, Tennessee Tech University.
Miami University's Scripps Gerontology Center has been awarded a $1 million grant from the Ohio Department of Medicaid to improve nursing home residents' quality-of-life. 

The project, Incorporating the Preferences for Everyday Living into Ohio's Nursing Homes to Improve Resident Care, is intended to guide nursing home providers on the best way to deliver person-centered care by honoring their residents' preferences for everyday living. 

"Recent research suggests practicing person-centered care, an approach that emphasizes knowing the person and honoring each individual's preferences, has the ability to improve health-related quality-of-life among nursing home residents," said Katy Abbott, Principal Investigator of the study and Assistant Professor of Sociology & Gerontology.

link to_ http___miamioh.edu_cas_academics_centers_scripps_news-events_2016_08_peli-grant.html

MGS Students report on summer experiences

MGS Practicum Students August 2016
All Master of Gerontological Studies (MGS) students complete a ten to twelve week full-time practicum in the summer between years one and two of the program. These in-the-field experiences are an important part of the MGS program, and students return eager to share their stories and apply new insights in the classroom. On August 26 seven MGS students gave presentations about their summer 2016 practicum experiences to an audience of fellow students, faculty, and Scripps staff members. 

The students (and their placement sites) from left to right: Prianka Shrestha (Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, MD), Michelle McGuire (Scripps Gerontology Center, Oxford, OH), Anastacia Thomas (Mather Lifeways, Morton Grove, IL), Nathan Sheffer ( Alzheimer's Association Northwest Ohio Chapter, Toledo, OH), Xiao Qiu (Catholic Charities, San Francisco, CA), Rashmita Bajracharya (The Benjamin Rose Institute, Cleveland, OH), and Emma Jia (Sumner Place Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, Lincoln NE).

Our alumni are part of Scripps Gerontology Center's legacy

Alumni Advisory Group meeting
On August 1, 2016, Scripps Gerontology Center convened the inaugural meeting of the Gerontology Alumni Advisory Group.

Executive Director Suzanne Kunkel noted that "Our history is rooted in the groundbreaking demographic research that took place here in the first five decades since our founding in 1922. We are deeply proud of that legacy. But we are equally proud of the next generation of pioneering work that began in the 1960's-research and education about aging.   Our gerontology alums represent this momentous new legacy." The Alumni Advisory Group was formed with the purpose of advising the Scripps Gerontology Center regarding best ways for alumni to connect with each other, with current and future students, and with the broader Miami University and Scripps communities.

Staff updated the group about the current status of the Center, including information about Scripps funding sources, research projects, Opening Minds through Art, academic programs, and communications. The group then focused on what projects would best serve the needs of alumni and the Center.

Several exciting ideas were shared. The group agreed that subcommittees should be formed to address two broad initiatives that emerged from the discussion: 
  1. Plan & promote in-person gerontology alumni gatherings in various regions of the country and at a wide range of professional meetings.
  2. Create an online alumni site that serves as a directory and space for sharing information and making connections with other alumni. 
Members of the Alumni Advisory Group
BA in Gerontology
Julia Creswell '15, Assistant Coach, Otterbein Small Homes
Ross Farnsworth '09, Executive Director, The Knolls of Oxford

Master of Gerontological Studies
Chelsea Gilchrist '14, Program Associate, Center for Healthy Aging at NCOA
Julie Kaminski '00, Director, Leading Age Nebraska
David Mancuso '99, Director of Development and Community Relations, LifeSpan
Kathryn Myles '91, Alumni Relations, Miami University
Dan O'Connor '84, Chief Operating Officer, Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services
Quanhong Qiu '01, Executive Director, Compassionate Community Care
Marisa Scala '95, Director, Office of Integrated Care Innovations , Administration for Community Living
Abby Schwartz '05, Assistant Professor, East Carolina University

PhD in Social Gerontology
Sarah Boehle '15, Assistant Professor, Shawnee State University
Anna Rahman '11, Researcher, University of Southern California, LA
Taka Yamashita '11, Assistant Professor, Sociology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Meet the new residents of hallway 370! 

For the first time in recent years we've got a brand-new group of research staff, all hired at about the same time, and learning from each other as they share close quarters.

Erin Kelly, MSW - Research Associate, Upham 370A
Erin earned her Master's Degree in Social Work from Indiana University with a concentration in Mental Health and Addictions in May 2015.  Before joining the team at Scripps, she worked as a Licensed Social Worker for a non-profit hospice and palliative care center in South Bend, Indiana.   Her experience with hospice sparked a passion for assisting individuals and families with making their own end-of-life decisions and for steering the medical model focus to patient-centered care.  

She wanted her work to impact the barriers that affected families and individuals from having the end-of-life care and experience they desired.  "I strongly felt that the only way to do this was through gaining experience in impact and outcome research to reflect the need for patient-centered care.  After my interview, I knew that Scripps was the place to gain the experience given the wealth of knowledge and history of success coming from the staff and fellows."  

Erin is currently involved with five active projects at varying levels.  
  • The No Wrong Door Project looks at consumer experience and satisfaction in navigating long-term care services with the implementation of the No Wrong Door Policy. The intent is that no matter where an individual goes to seek long-term services and supports, they will be referred to get the assistance they need through an integrated system.
  • A project with the Ohio Means Jobs Centers focuses on older workers' satisfaction with their employment services.
  • Three projects with the National Association for Area Agencies on Aging, seeking to understand the capacity of the Aging Network and the services provided across the U.S. 

"I feel that my work with Scripps will make a difference in the lives of the aging population, by assisting agencies in developing tools to measure and track consumer experience.  These tools will allow agencies to address areas of success and growth, thus modifying or expanding programming to meet the growing and changing needs of the people they serve."  

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Ryan Shanley, MGS - Research Associate, Upham 370B
Ryan earned his Master's in Gerontological Studies from Miami University in May 2016. During his time as a Graduate Assistant he worked with many Scripps staff members on multiple research projects. He also wrote for and edited the Scripps website and social media pages.
Ryan cites the collegial work environment at Scripps for his decision to join the team. "From my first day as a student I've been regarded as a colleague. Everyone at Scripps is treated with the same level of respect - it doesn't matter if you are faculty, staff, or student - and that is what I love about this place." Ryan continues "In my interview for Research Associate, I could tell that I was going to be given a lot of responsibility, which showed me that they have a great deal of respect for me as a researcher. This meant a lot to me, considering the expertise of the staff here at Scripps."

Ryan's work at Scripps supports several projects covering many topics:
  • What Matters Most - The objective of this project is to identify everyday living preferences that can inform and improve the service delivery process and outcomes for Ohio's PASSPORT program.
  • READINESS to Respond to Assessed Caregiver Needs - He is an integral part of the team conducting focus groups with all of the Area Agencies on Aging throughout Ohio to assess how ready the agencies are to implement a standardized Caregiver Assessment tool.
  • Evaluation of Enhanced Service Coordination in Ohio's Affordable Public Housing - Enhanced Service Coordinators are employees who, through careful assessment, can evaluate the health and social needs of residents and develop individualized service plans. The research is conducting an impact evaluation of the service coordination at several properties throughout Ohio.
  • SASI Transportation - The purpose of this project is to validate and refine an existing tool for assessing service adequacy and satisfaction with medical transportation services.   
Ryan shared that his primary goal in life is to help others in ways that they cannot help themselves; "I have realized that research is a way for me to do that. Whether I am working to refine a tool that will improve medical transportation services, or I am conducting focus groups that will help develop a training to better prepare agencies with assessing caregiver needs, I know that I am indirectly helping hundreds of older adults receive better services and direct care. It is a great feeling knowing that with every research project I'm involved with, I am achieving my primary goal."

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Kendall Leser, PhD - Research Associate, Upham 370C
Kendall completed her PhD in public health from The Ohio State University in May 2016, with a focus on promoting the health of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers.  In her previous position, she worked at a national public health non-profit in Washington, D.C. serving the nation's 2,800 local health departments.

Kendall wanted to the join the Scripps team to gain post-doctoral research experience, as well as learn about the field of gerontology. She shared, "Immediately after my phone interview, I had a great feeling inside due the warmth and intelligence of the research team and I knew that I truly wanted to join the Scripps family."  

At Scripps, Kendall is the project manager for the Preferences for Everyday Living Inventory (PELI) project, which aims to promote preference-based, person-centered care in Ohio's nursing homes. This is a statewide initiative that has the ability to reach all of Ohio's 960+ nursing homes to improve resident care. 

Kendall shared, "I believe that my work with Scripps has the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of nursing home residents by honoring their most strongly held preferences, as well as nursing home employees. We are still in the beginning stages of this project and I am eager to see how this project can positively impact the lives of others."  
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The mission of the Scripps Gerontology Center is to do work that makes a positive difference in the lives of aging individuals, their families and communities, and to meet the needs of aging societies. This mission is accomplished through excellence in research, education, and service.

Founded at Miami University in 1922, the Center is one of the nation's top centers for research in aging. Scripps conducts the core of its research on a state and national level in the areas of demography, long-term care, program evaluation, and arts and dementia programming.