LeadingAge Aims for Real-World Impact with UMass Research Center

Seeking real-world connections for its research into long-term services and supports (LTSS), LeadingAge looked past private colleges and recently partnered with the public University of Massachusetts Boston to create a center dedicated to exploring the future of LTSS programs.

The new LeadingAge LTSS Center at UMass Boston will use the university’s graduate students and deep connections with the state government to bridge the gap between academic research and firm policy, center co-director Robyn Stone told Skilled Nursing News.

“We have a goal at LeadingAge to make the research very applied, and make sure it gets translated into practice and policy, so bringing us together really strengthens that,” said Stone, who also serves as the senior vice president of research for LeadingAge, a Washington, D.C.-based association of nonprofit senior care providers.


Stone and the rest of the LTSS Center team plan to draw from UMass Boston’s Gerontology Institute, which currently conducts research and advocacy programs relating to pensions and retirement income, lifelong learning, and other aging-related issues. Mark Cohen, a clinical professor at the institute, will serve alongside Stone as the LTSS Center’s co-director.

The center has already kicked off its research efforts by starting a deep dive into low-income senior housing data, with the goal of seeing whether service-enriched housing programs improve resident outcomes and lower overall care costs by keeping seniors in their homes instead of hospitals, according to Stone. As part of the study, the center has partnered with various local housing agencies, and plans to incorporate detailed Medicaid and Medicare data into its analysis.

“We’re able to actually look at the level of service enrichment that’s happening in these properties, and seeing how it affects health care utilization and some of the outcomes for residents,” Stone said.


The center also partners with Community Catalyst, a Boston-based group that advocates for affordable health care for consumers; Cohen serves as the research director of Community Catalyst’s Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation.

“It’s unique in the way that we’re bringing researchers together from the membership of a provider association and the consumer perspective,” Stone said.

Calling health care and housing providers “natural laboratories,” Stone said the center will seek to raise money from both government sources and private foundations for future applied studies. The LeadingAge LTSS center will also offer internships for the university’s graduate students, and maintain a Washington, D.C. office in addition to its operations at the UMass Boston campus in the city’s Dorchester neighborhood.

“It’s a different kind of a place,” Stone said of UMass Boston, noting that many of the campus’s students are the first in their families to attend college. “It’s got this very applied orientation, and they have such a great relationship with the state.”

Written by Alex Spanko

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