By Taryn Hojlo
UMass Boston’s gerontology faculty and students produced exciting new research findings and achieved remarkable public service achievements in 2018. The news media took notice.
Associate professor Beth Dugan and her Gerontology Institute colleagues published the 2018 edition of the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Data Report in December.The comprehensive report examined a vast array of health indicators on a community-by-community basis, creating an essential resource for policymakers and local leaders to better serve Massachusetts seniors. News coverage by WBUR in Boston looked at seven key takeaways from the report. The Boston Globe dove into the healthy aging data and produced a front-page story examining the impact of depression among elders. Dugan and her team ended the year at work on a similar report profiling the health status of seniors in New Hampshire. Continue reading
By Natasha S. Bryant
Foreign-born nurses and personal care assistants make up an increasingly significant percentage of workers in the field of long-term services and supports (LTSS) around the world, according to new research from the Global Ageing Network and the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston.
These immigrant/migrant workers, who come primarily from developing countries, bring myriad benefits to the LTSS organizations that employ them and the care recipients they serve, according to findings from a 2018 study by the LTSS Center.
Three new reports explore those benefits, in addition to identifying challenges associated with hiring foreign-born LTSS workers, exploring strategies to address those challenges, and providing an overview of global migration patterns and policies. Continue reading
Gerontology Institue Director Len Fishman and Penny Shaw in Braintree, Mass.
The word that might best describe Penny Shaw is “indefatigable.” A long-time activist for persons with disabilities, Shaw is a visible and vocal presence on national, state and community issues. She is known for her sharp opinions and blunt talk as an advocate. Shaw sits on more than a dozen committees, including an advisory panel to the state Executive Office of Elder Affairs. She is a prolific writer on disability issues whose work has appeared in a wide range of journals and other publications.
Shaw has also been a nursing home resident for nearly 16 years. A teacher with a PhD in French literature, she became disabled in 2001 with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare neuromuscular condition, and was not expected to live. After a year in a rehab hospital, Shaw was transferred to a nursing facility in Braintree, Mass., specializing in neurorehabilitation care, where she now lives. Gerontology Institute Director Len Fishman recently met with Shaw to talk about nursing homes from a resident’s perspective. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
LEN FISHMAN: You’ve been living in a nursing home for many years now. What was it like at the very beginning?
PENNY SHAW: First of all, I was intubated for five years with a feeding tube. I arrived [at what is now called Braintree Manor Healthcare] on December the 26, 2002, but I was not decannulated until August 2006. So I was basically bed-bound. Continue reading
By Erin McGaffigan
In 2013, Massachusetts developed the One Care Implementation Council so consumers could have an active role in a new health care program serving people with disabilities who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with consumers, advocates and state employees to talk about their experience on the One Care Implementation Council, and these interviews did not disappoint. You can find the full report on the Council’s engagement process and lessons learned here. This case study was jointly produced by the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation and the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston.
As I reflect on the interview experience, I realize how much one can learn just by listening. Without question, Massachusetts’ disability advocates have pushed aggressively for meaningful engagement in long-term services and supports (LTSS) program design for years, and this really influenced how advocates and state leaders approached One Care’s engagement strategy. This was not the advocates’ “first rodeo,” and they came ready with ideas for making the Council an active body. This meant ditching the term, “advisory” and replacing it with “implementation” to mirror advocates’ intention to be deeply involved and “part of the action.” State partners, who also have administered their fair share of engagement strategies, spelled out Council expectations, including its purpose and desired representation, through a formalized Request for Response process after meeting with community leaders so that unnecessary process challenges were avoided. Continue reading
The LTSS Center’s preliminary study, conducted for the National Council on Aging, involves analysis of health and economic data from 2014 Health and Retirement Study.
Center researchers found that 43 percent of people aged 55 or older with incomes below 250 percent of the federal poverty level reported their health condition as “fair” or “poor.” Individuals in this income group were 3 times more likely to characterize their health as fair or poor than similarly aged people who were at least 400 percent above the poverty level. Continue reading
The LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston has been engaged by the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care (NYZCCC) to evaluate the impact of the center’s Contemplative Care approach on nursing home residents. The evaluation will also assess the impact of NYZCCC’s Resiliency Training on nursing home staff.
Both the Contemplative Care intervention and the Resiliency Training will take place at Isabella Geriatric Center in New York City. Continue reading
The One Care Implementation Council was established in Massachusetts five years ago to engage consumers and their advocates in the design and oversight of a new health care program serving people with disabilities who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.
So how did that work out?
The LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston, with the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation, recently released a new case study that examines the creation and development of the council in detail. Continue reading
By Pamela Nadash, Edward A. Miller, and Jennifer Gaudet Hefele
Leaving loved ones in the care of a nursing home raises a host of fears: that they might suffer abuse at the hands of uncaring staff; that they might be medicated into a stupor; that they will be ignored and neglected. The specter of being trapped in a bad nursing home haunts us all. To avoid bad nursing homes, we need information that enables us to make good choices.
Recently, The Boston Globe revealed that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) had not released data it had tracked over several years on the quality of the 133 nursing homes run by the VA. (Vets also have access to roughly 2,500 community nursing homes that the VA contracts with and about 160 State Veterans Homes.) Information obtained by the Globe indicated nearly half of VA-run nursing homes received the lowest possible score for quality (although scores on overall quality, which includes other dimensions, match national figures). Clearly, this is a story about the quality of nursing homes. But it is really a story about the need for access to good information — presented in ways the average person can understand — about nursing homes more generally. Continue reading
Consumer engagement has become a health care priority, but it is difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies and organization-level plans developed to achieve that goal.
In a recent blog post for Community Catalyst’s Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation, authors Marc Cohen, Erin McGaffigan and Danielle Skenadore argue that “consumer engagement” itself is a term of art and can mean many different things.
“While the concept appears to have many supporters, how [it] is defined and applied in practice is much less clear,” they wrote. “Moreover, evidence-based strategies for successfully engaging consumers that are linked to clearly articulated and specific outcomes are few and far between.” Continue reading
Marc Cohen appearing at a symposium to honor the late Joshua Wiener.
Marc Cohen went back a long way with Josh Wiener.
For decades, they debated the substance and detail of one of the most pressing social and economic challenges of our times – how to pay for the long-term services and supports increasing numbers of older Americans depend upon. Cohen, now co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston, was one of more than a dozen experts speaking last week at a Washington symposium to honor Wiener, a leading figure in the field who died in January. Cohen’s comments begin about 48 minutes into a video of the entire event. Continue reading