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Current Projects

The core of our work includes research in the areas of demography, long-term care, program evaluation, the aging workforce, and arts and dementia programming. View our current projects below.

ScrippsAVID (Arts-based, Virtual, Intergenerational, Dementia Friendly) Web Application: A Platform to Provide People Living with Dementia with Meaningful, Creative and Social Engagement

National Endowment for the Arts 
Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Lokon 
September 1, 2022 through August 31, 2024

ScrippsAVID (Arts-based, Virtual, Intergenerational and Dementia-friendly) is a web-based application with video chat function, for people living with dementia (PLWD) to connect with someone from a different generation, and make art together. This is a virtual extension of the in-person Opening Minds through Art (OMA) program. By making ScrippsAVID accessible to PLWD, we are removing technological barriers for everyone interested in intergenerational art-making opportunities. ScrippsAVID can be accessed securely by anyone with an Internet connection at no cost. No dementia screening is required to participate. Pilot data from 58 older adults and 158 students collected during the pandemic show that weekly virtual connections resulted in the similar benefits for both elders and students as the in-person OMA experience. ScrippsAVID is aimed at reducing technical challenges by: • Simplifying the experience of using ScrippsAVID • Creating orientation for PLWD: How to use ScrippsAVID • Soliciting care-partners’ participation with specified role: How to support the PLWD • Creating orientation for volunteers: Effective communication strategies Expected outcomes: • A virtual art gallery where participants share their finished artwork • Reduction in loneliness scores on both PLWD and volunteers • Improvements in volunteers’ attitudes toward PLWD   

Advancing Coordination of Home- and Community-based Services for the AD/ADRD Population

Regents of the University of California, San Francisco, pass through funds from the National Institute on Aging
Principal Investigator: Suzanne Kunkel 
April 1, 2022 through January 31, 2023

Effective delivery of home and community-based services to support people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias who are living at home requires coordination across multiple agencies and service sectors. A key component of that coordination is sharing information about health, functional status, care needs, and safety. This project addresses best practices and barriers to data sharing agreements and interoperability of information systems across agencies and across service sectors.

USAging Aging and Disability Business Institute, Phase III: Advancing Organizational Equity and Excellence through Sustainable Cross-Sector Partnerships

USAging, pass through funds from The John A. Hartford Foundation
Principal Investigator: Suzanne Kunkel 
April 1, 2022 through March 31, 2025

With funding from The John A. Hartford Foundation, USAging is creating and implementing a series of business acumen resources, trainings, learning collaboratives and consultancies to support the development of new lines of business, including contracting with health care providers, among the network of agencies servicing older adults and younger people with disabilities. Scripps Gerontology Center is contracting with USAging to evaluate the effectiveness and overall impact of the resources and interventions offered through this project.

Improving Adult Immunization Rates for COVID-19, Influenza, and Routine Adult Vaccinations through Partnerships with Medical Subspecialty Professional Societies and the Long-Term Care Professional Society

The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, pass-through funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the CARES Act
Principal Investigator: John Bowblis
 March 1, 2022 through September 28, 2022

The CDC has funded a project to understand the benefits and costs associated with vaccinations for COVID-19, influenza, and other routine adult vaccinations in the long-term care setting. This project will conduct research that examines these costs and benefits.

Information and Planning: Understanding the Capacity of the Aging Network

Department of Health & Human Services
Principal Investigator: Suzanne Kunkel  
October 1, 2021 through August 31, 2022

The Information and Planning project collects national data on the activities and community positioning of the national network of Area Agencies on Aging and Title VI organizations serving tribal elders. The data collected from the surveys informs a broad array of technical assistance strategies and resources developed and deployed, also under the auspices of this grant, by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging to assist aging network organizations in maximizing their effectiveness.

Exploring the Associations between Religious Coping, Resiliency, and Social Support and the Physical and Mental Health of Bhutanese Refugee Older Adults in Ohio

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, pass through funds from National Institutes of Health
Principal Investigator: Saruna Ghimire  
July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023

The Bhutanese refugees are ethnic Nepalese who fled from southern Bhutan during the “ethnic cleansing” by the Bhutanese government in 1990s. About 85% of this displaced population resettled in the United States; Ohio is home to about 50,000. In the post-settlement context, knowledge about their health is limited in general, and, more specifically, very limited among the older population. Furthermore, we lack understanding of how aging in a migration context is impacted by resiliency and how social support and religious coping, two often noted protective factors in refugee populations, impact health outcomes. This study will characterize the physical and mental health conditions among older Bhutanese adults, aged 60 years and above, in Ohio’s four large cities: Columbus, Akron, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. The associations between religious coping, resiliency, and social supports and these health outcomes will also be explored. We plan to do a telephone survey of 250 older Bhutanese identified with the help of local community-based organizations. Given the lack of understanding of the basic health profile of this population, this exploratory study is a necessary stepping stone. However, we hope to understand how resiliency and coping strategies are linked to wellbeing in later life among a specific population known to have been subjected to tremendous trauma.

Providing Data to Improve Long-Term Services in Ohio

Ohio Department of Aging
Principal Investigators: Robert Applebaum, Ian Matthew Nelson, and John Bowblis 
September 13, 2021 through June 30, 2023

The Scripps Gerontology Center has been involved in studying the long-term services system in Ohio for the past three decades. In this phase of the project we will provide data in three areas as part of our ongoing effort to assist Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) in efforts to improve the lives of older Ohioans with disability. Study components include; continuation of the Biennial Survey (15 th wave), an in-depth analysis and recommendations addressing the direct care workforce challenges in the long-term services area, a description and understanding of the impacts of Ohio’s locally funded initiatives for older people. Study investigators are Robert Applebaum, Matt Nelson, and John Bowblis. Study time period is July 2021 to June 2023.

Ohio 2021 Family Satisfaction Surveys

Ohio Department of Aging
Principal Investigator: Jane Straker 
June 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022

This study surveys family members in all Ohio’s nursing homes and residential care facilities.  Data are reported for every facility; results appear on Ohio’s long-term care consumer guide at

Opening Minds Through Art (OMA): An Intergenerational Art Program for People with Dementia

Kappa Kappa Gamma
Principal Investigator: Elizabeth Lokon
July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022

In January 2011, the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority adopted the Opening Minds through Art (OMA) program as their primary philanthropy project. For the past 10 years, members of the sorority got trained in attitudes and skills necessary to be effective OMA volunteers and OMA leaders in order to conduct the OMA program at the Oxford Community Adult Day Service site. The Oxford Community Adult Day Service is part of the Oxford Senior Citizen’s Center. Each week, 8-12 sorority members serve 6-10 elders at the adult day center and facilitate the creative expression of these elders using the failure free OMA methodology and visual arts projects. The program culminates in an annual art show and silent auction at the Oxford Community Arts Center.

AARP COVID-19 State Long-Term Care Dashboard: Phase 2

Principal Investigators: Jane Straker and Ian Nelson
January 8, 2021 through December 31, 2021

This project reports federal data aggregated to state-level statistics on COVID-19 prevalence, protection and testing, and examines visitation policies, and oversight and monitoring in long-term care facilities for use in the AARP COVID-19 dashboard.  The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 in facilities with high proportions of Black, Indigenous and people of color will also be described and examined to prepare a report on contributing explanatory factors.

Expansion of Dementia-Capable Communities Within Urban and Rural Settings in Ohio Using Evidence-Based and Informed Programming

Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging
Principal Investigator: Jennifer Heston-Mullins
October 1, 2020 through July 30, 2023

This project will evaluate interventions to increase community dementia capability and improve outcomes for community-dwelling individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias (ADRD), those at risk of developing ADRD, and their caregivers.

The Impact of Person-Centered Care on Nursing Home Quality

The Donaghue Foundation
Principal Investigator: Katherine Abbott
December 1, 2020 - November 30, 2023

In 2015, the Ohio Department of Medicaid mandated that all Medicaid certified nursing homes (NH)s use the Preferences for Everyday Living Inventory (PELI) to enhance person-centered care. The PELI is a valid and reliable evidenced-based tool that providers can use to learn about an individual’s most important preferences and integrate the information into personalize-care plans to improve the quality of care. However, there is a lack of evidence on whether using the PELI improves outcomes that are important to NH communities. The goal of this proposal is to use data collected from six different sources to explore the impact of the state-wide initiative. We seek funding for longitudinal analyses (i.e., multi-level modeling) regarding three key questions:

  1. Resident and Family Satisfaction.  Is provider use of the PELI a predictor of resident and family satisfaction? 
  2. Clinical and Care Process Outcomes.  Is provider use of the PELI a predictor of clinical (e.g., pressure ulcers, falls) and care process outcomes (e.g., physical restraints, antipsychotic medication use)?
  3. Measures of Quality. Is provider use of the PELI a predictor of quality ratings (e.g., overall star rating, health inspection rating, staffing rating, quality rating, number of complaints)?

The highly productive research team will partner with the Ohio Person-Centered Care Coalition to interpret empirical results and develop practice-based recommendations for long-term care providers.  Findings will be disseminated through conferences and publications to help inform the use of evidence-based initiatives like the PELI in practice and policy.

Improving the Education and Labor Market Outcomes of Students in Subbaccalaureate Postsecondary Institutions: What can we learn from Ohio's system of public career and technical centers?

The Regents of the University of Michigan, pass-through from the Institute of Educational Sciences (IES)
Co-Principal Investigator: Phyllis Cummins
July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2023

Access to postsecondary training and short-term credentials has never been more important in the U.S. than it is now. Increasing the number of individuals holding high quality postsecondary certificates in occupational fields is a key avenue for reestablishing and maintaining economic vitality. To that end, a number of states have built systems of public career and technical centers (CTCs) that offer education leading to postsecondary certificates and that operate alongside the more well known community colleges (CCs). Research indicates that CTCs have student completion and employment rates that are notably higher than CCs, but we know little about the factors that contribute to the favorable educational and labor market outcomes of CTC students. This three-year study, funded by a $1,400,000 federal grant from the Institute for Education Sciences, aims to pinpoint the institutional policies, strategies, and practices that contribute to the success of CTC students and can be adapted to improve outcomes nationwide for students in community college career and technical programs, especially those in short-term credential programs. Peter Bahr (University of Michigan) leads the project as Principal Investigator. Phyllis Cummins (Miami University) serves as co-Principal Investigator, and Matthew Regele (Xavier University) serves as co-Investigator.

Basic Skills and Problem-Solving Skills in Technology-Rich Environments in the STEM-Related Workforce Development Programs in the U.S.

University of Maryland Baltimore County, pass-through from the Institute of Educational Sciences (IES)
Co-Investigator: Phyllis Cummins
July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2023

This project will examine basic skills including literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills as academic readiness indicators in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)-related workforce development programs of postsecondary education institutions in the U.S. We will conduct a series of (1) secondary data analyses, (2) primary data collection and analyses, and (3) qualitative review of the workforce development programs and interviews with the key stakeholders. Given the importance of STEM-related occupations in the context of global competitiveness, national economic development and existing employment issues (e.g., job replacement due to the automation), the postsecondary STEM-related workforce development programs play a critical role to prepare future workforce. However, little is known about basic skills distribution and the roles of basic skills for the education/training outcomes in postsecondary workforce development program settings. Takashi Yamashita (University of Maryland Baltimore County) leads the project as Principal Investigator. Rita Karam (RAND) is a Co-Principal Investigator and Phyllis Cummins (Miami University) serves as a Co-Investigator.

Aging and Disability Business Institute Phase 2: Advancing Integration, Partnerships and Payment Models Between Social Services and Health Systems

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), pass-through funds from the John A. Hartford Foundation, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Suzanne Kunkel
April 2019 - March 2022

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) is creating and implementing a series of business tools and resources to support formal contracting arrangements between community-based organizations and the health care system. Scripps Gerontology Center is working with the n4a to evaluate the effectiveness and overall impact of the resources and interventions offered through this project. 

Creating a Dementia Inclusive Community in Northwest Ohio through the Expansion of Supports and Services

MemoryLane Care Services, pass-through funds from the Department of Health and Human Services
Principal Investigators: Jennifer Heston & Suzanne Kunkel
September 2018 - September 2022

This project is a three-year collaborative project to build a dementia-inclusive community in the greater Toledo community of Northwest Ohio. Funded by the Administration for Community Living, the project is designed to improve the quality of life for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias (ADRD), those who are exhibiting symptoms but lack a diagnosis, and their caregivers. This project is a partnership with MemoryLane Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Services, Benjamin Rose Institute, and the Ohio Council for Cognitive Health in which Scripps will provide third-party evaluation.

Long-Term Care Research

Ohio Department of Higher Education (formerly known as the Ohio Board of Regents)
Principal Investigator: Suzanne Kunkel
1988 - June 30, 2023

The Ohio Long-Term Care Research Project was established by the legislature in 1988. The goal of this project is to provide information needed for effective planning, program development, and policy-making.

Ohio Long-Term Care Research Project webpage

Opening Minds through Art (OMA) II: A Quality Improvement Project

Ohio Department of Medicaid
Principal Investigator: Like Lokon 
October 2019 - June 30, 2023

Opening Minds through Art (OMA) is an intergenerational art-making program for people with dementia and provides opportunities for creative self-expression and social engagement for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurocognitive disorders. The purpose of this project is to put OMA in more long-term care facilities in Ohio so that Ohio can serve as the national model for quality of care improvement through creative arts. Because OMA has been designated as a Quality Improvement Project by the Ohio Department of Aging, implementing OMA will meet nursing home licensing requirements. Thanks to funding from the Ohio Department of Medicaid, OMA will be offered at 36 additional nursing homes throughout Ohio by 2022.

Preference Based Living for People Living with Dementia in Ohio's Nursing Homes

Ohio Department of Medicaid
Principal Investigator: Katherine Abbott 
October 2019 - September 30, 2022

Increasing the Preference-Based Care of People in Ohio’s Nursing Homes with a Special Focus on People Living with Dementia project is for all nursing home providers in Ohio who seek a sustainable way to provide preference-based, person-centered care. This project seeks to remediate a major barrier, expressed by 76% of Ohio providers, to providing preference-based care. Specifically, residents living with dementia who are unable to communicate their preferences. Individuals with cognitive impairment comprise half of all nursing home residents receiving Medicaid in Ohio. Therefore, remediating the barriers to preference assessment for individuals living with cognitive impairment in nursing homes is a critical need in Ohio and doing so is crucial to improving the quality of care for these residents.

In this project, we will build upon prior quality improvement materials to add a pragmatic audit trail for providers to track their process of Preferences for Everyday Living Inventory (PELI) assessment to the integration of preferences into care plans. We will develop and offer quality improvement projects (QIPs) that will focus on assessing preferences for people with moderate to severe dementia, as well as communicating those preferences across different care team members and shifts. We propose to develop materials from an evidence-based program for easy-to-use interventions that direct care staff can implement in their work with people living with dementia. We plan to augment the PELI assessment with visual cues to support individuals with dementia in expressing their preferences. Additionally, we will turn an existing in-person Leadership Communication Training into an on-line program that focuses on increasing care team members’ emotional intelligence to build relationships and enhance person-centered care. We will also develop and disseminate new education and training materials throughout the project in the form of newsletters, webinars and training videos. Finally, through a partnership with Linked Senior, we will scale up the mobile responsive Care Preference Assessment of Satisfaction (ComPASS-16) quality improvement website making it available to providers nation-wide.

Ohio Long-Term Care Research Project

An Aging Ohio

Ohio is aging along with the nation and much of the world. With more than 2 million people age 60 and older, Ohio ranks sixth nationally in the size of the aged population. In 2010, nearly 20% of the state’s population was over the age of 60. By 2050, we’ve projected the 60 and older population could make up almost 30% of the total population.

Research-Driven Planning & Development

The Ohio legislature established The Ohio Long-Term Care Research Project in 1988 in response to the growing older population. Through this project, we provide applied research and policy analysis. In addition, we provide technical assistance, training and education for Ohio legislators, public administrators, service providers, and the community at large.

Recently published research 


Additional Resources

  • OhioPopulation.orgExplore population characteristics such as age, disability status, income, marital status and education among Ohio's 88 counties.

Changing Minds: An Introduction to Person-Centered Care

This video is a resource for those wanting to learn more about person-centered care principles or for those wishing to teach others about aspects of person-centered care. In 2013, researchers from Scripps focused on direct care workers and best practices of high performing long-term care organizations in Ohio. (Common Sense for Caring Organizations: Results from a Study of High-Performing Home Care Agencies and Nursing Homes; Straker, J.K., Boehle, S. G., Nelson, I. M., and Fox, E. M.; January 2013; URI: http://hdl.handle. net/2374.MIA/4953). An interesting finding emerged from this research: almost all of the high performing organizations, coincidentally or not, provided person-centered care. Person-centered care seems to benefit care recipients, employees, and organizations overall.

One of the main markers of person-centered care is the knowledge and understanding a worker has for the elder in his or her care. In an industry that has often been focused upon quick and efficient completion of tasks, it may seem unusual for workers to take time for unrushed conversation with an elder. This time of focused conversation is actually an important foundation of person-centered care.

Especially for those who have spent time learning and working in the traditional model of care, person-centered care requires a “re-framing” or a different way of looking at situations. This video was made as a tool to better understand some basic ideas about person-centered care.

Changing Mind

Who is this video for?

Our video is for a variety of audiences. Potential viewers include:

  • Direct care workers in training
  • All staff in organizations beginning to adopt person-centered practices
  • New employees in person-centered organizations
  • Families of consumers served by person-centered organizations
  • Board members of person-centered organizations
  • All staff in person-centered organizations needing a “refresher” on PCC philosophy and practice

How to use this video

The video can be viewed in its entirety, or viewed in three separate segments to stimulate discussion and presentation of other materials and information. Groups or individuals can answer the questions posed in the training guide.

What Matters Most: A Guide for My Support and Care

The What Matters Most Guide is a tool for gathering and organizing information to guide the delivery of person-centered care at home. 

The What Matters Most (WMM) project was funded by the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) with the goal of developing a tool for the PASSPORT program, Ohio’s over-60 Medicaid home- and community-based (HCBS) waiver program. ODA is committed to delivering person-centered vs. agency centered care and the WMM tool was developed as a practice tool to promote preference-based person-centered care. In developing What Matters Most, we collaborated with two Area Agencies on Aging (AAA7 in rural Southeastern Ohio and Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging in urban northeastern Ohio.)

Person-Centered Home- and Community-Based Services: What Matters Most