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November, 2012
   Issue #2  
Co-Directors Column  UMB Logo
Welcome to the second edition of MASterPiece!

 We are continuing to enhance the Program to improve its effectiveness to serve our students better. Here are some changes that will enhance lil and elour communications:

  • We are developing a special MAS LinkedIn group that will include new job postings, updates on aging policy issues, and the opportunity to network more easily. We will also be offering job search workshops covering such issues as preparing a resume and cover letter, tips on where to look for a job, and how to prepare for job interviews. It is simple to sign up for an account...and free!
  • The Gerontology Department is on Facebook! Join our groups for more information sharing opportunities!
  • The Gerontology Department currently has an excellent speaker series on campus. We are now pursuing ways to make the speaker series available online to our students and alumni. We value the relationships we develop with our students and want to make sure we continue contact with our alumni as they pursue their careers.

We are constantly reviewing and evaluating our curriculum. This semester we offered a new special topics elective course, Transportation and Aging, taught by Dr. Nina Silverstein and Dr. Helen Kerschner, two nationally acclaimed experts. We also are planning to offer two 6 week intensive summer courses, Psychology of Aging and Health and Physical Aspects of Aging, alternatives to our traditional courses. We first tried this last summer and in response to positive comments from students will be doing so again. We are very proud of the excellent Capstone projects completed by our students. We learn from them, and we know students are very interested in the projects of their classmates. As a result, we will now post completed Capstone projects online and make them available to all of you.


As always, we enjoy hearing from you with news about your work or with any thoughts and ideas you would like to share with your classmates, alumni, and faculty.


-Ellen and Lillian 

Alumni Spotlight: Susan Kasle
Program Director, Massachusetts Association of Older Americans 

Susan Kasle started her career as a physical therapist and her interests  led her to work and volunteer with older adults. She entered the gerontology program to gain more perspective on the elder care network, and knew she wanted  to use her health care background and public health knowledge in the field of gerontology. She now works  at the Massachusetts Association of Older Americans, Inc. (MAOA) as the Aging and Mental Health Program Director


We recently talked to Susan about her experience in the program and what she has been doing since graduation.


What did you enjoy about being in the MAS program? It was stimulating to hear the life and work experiences and diverse ideas of other students from across the country. This contributed greatly to my learning experience. I found the professors and coursework engaging and relevant. It was also wonderful to meet local students through classes and networking opportunities through MAS.

How did you manage to balance work/school/life? I'm at my best when my life is full of a variety of activities. Prioritizing, organization and flexibility help me keep things in balance as best I can.

What advice would you offer current or future students? Healthy aging encompasses many interconnected parts; mental health, physical health and function, social interaction, civic engagement, and economic security. Try not to silo these areas.  Integrate what you learn into a larger framework. Learn from different disciplines and people.

Is there anything personal (such as hobbies; big news) or professional that we haven't talked about but that you want to share with our readers:  I became involved with the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP), an evidence-based self-empowerment workshop benefiting older adults, just as the program was being introduced to Metrowest Boston. At the time I was volunteering for JFS Metrowest in their Healthy Partners program.  I was trained, certified, led workshops and subsequently hired as the CDSMP Coordinator for the Arthritis Foundation, Massachusetts Chapter. Since then I have continued my involvement with the evidence-based programs through certification as a Master Trainer and have led workshops in Healthy Eating, Diabetes Self-Management Program, and A Matter of Balance. I have facilitated workshops for older adults at senior centers, ASAPs, medical centers, faith-based organizations and subsidized adult housing. I enjoy the interaction and learning from and with the participants.



Demise of the CLASS Act
A program designed to provide long-term care insurance for working Americans has been dropped

By Ning Xie

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the department is calling for a halt to the implementation of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act on October 14, 2011. CLASS Act, part of the 2010 health care reform in the United States, was designed to be a voluntary public insurance program that aimed to provide insurance coverage for long-term care for people with disabilities. However, in October, 2011, the Obama Administration decided not to move forward with the implementation of the CLASS Act program. This means there remains no publicly funded long-term care insurance program in the United States. Some of the reasons given for the demise of the CLASS Act include its design features and implementation issues. In terms of the CLASS Act program design features, adverse selection, lack of mandatory enrollment and underwriting, very high premiums due to a weak work requirement, and the life-time benefits provision all made the CLASS Act amp classn insufficient response to financing the growing problem of financing long-term care. With respect to the implementation of the CLASS Act, administrative costs, determination of eligibility for benefits, restriction of moral hazard related to the cash benefits, and marketing of the proposed voluntary program also doomed the CLASS Act.


The implementation of the CLASS Act has been halted, so what does the future hold for publicly financed long-term care such as was found in the Class Act? According to Dr. Edward Alan Miller*, interviewed for this issue by Ning Xie, co-managing editor of the MASterpiece newsletter, the demise of the Class Act is likely to be permanent. The "death spiral" of the program, reflecting the linkage between voluntary enrollment, lack of underwriting, and high premiums, makes it difficult to spread program costs over a large enough population to allow the program in its original form to survive financially. Even proposed solutions, such as mandatory enrollment and tax financing, face high political risk and generate additional difficulties. Thus, the demise of the CLASS Act is likely permanent.


A recent special issue of the professional journal, Journal of Aging and Social Policy (with Dr. Miller as guest editor), brought together a number of scholars who wrote about different aspects of this important policy debate. Readers can find the special issue at The Journal of Aging and Social Policy is housed in the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston (editor-in-chief, Dr. Frank Caro.)


*Edward Alan Miller is Associate Professor of Gerontology and Public Policy, and fellow, Gerontology Institute, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA


mp net lunch
Program news

The 2012 Networking Luncheon brought together students, alumni, faculty, and staff for a productive afternoon in September at our UMass Boston Campus. Attendees discussed their experiences navigating the current job market, new job opportunities, and how the program can support students and alumni as they pursue their career in Aging Services.

Spring 2013 registration is open. Classes will fill up so register early. Check WISER for the deadline and avoid the late registration fee.

Summer 2013 We will be offering two 6 week courses in the summer session.

The Gerontological Society of America's Annual Scientific Meeting is 11/14 to 11/18 in San Diego this year. UMass Boston Gerontology will be represented by students and faculty.

Graduation is May 31, 2013. We encourage all graduates to attend if possible. If you intend to graduate in the spring or summer of 2013, the deadline to submit your intent to graduate form to the Registrar is March 15.

Application Deadline The fall 2013 application deadline is June 1, 2013.
Alumni Spotlight: Susan Carp
 Executive Director of the Council on Aging, Town of Arlington


Susan Carp graduated from the masters program in 2010 and is currently employed by the Town of Arlington as the Executive Director of the Council on Aging.  We recently talked to her about the program.


Thinking back to when you started the MAS program, what factors led you to enroll in the Master in Aging Services? I had stepped away from my professional career after my 3rd child was born but always found a way to keep a hand in my field in various ways. I was toying with the idea of going back to school to get a masters with the "empty" nest looming in the years ahead.     In 2004 when my mother in law passed away, her partner, "Bill",  of 10 years was orphaned of sorts.  He had no children from his previous marriage and no living relatives.  And, because he had been providing close to nursing home care to my mother in law for 3 years he had also become fairly isolated.   I traveled an hour each way to his home 2-3 times a week to help him reestablish his life.  I never worked so hard in my life, helping him remain in his home until the day he died. 

After Bill died, I had to take a deep breath.  Although helping him, help himself came naturally to me, I wanted to make sure the time and financial resources I would need to commit in the pursuit of a MAS were for reasons other than an emotional response to Bill's death.    I began taking some aging related courses at a local community college and did some private care work to gain more perspective of the aging services field.  I took the time to become certified in a few Evidence Based Disease and Disability programs endorsed by the state of Massachusetts and taught them at different Councils on Aging as well as  became a board member of a local Council on Aging.  Through the collective experiences and the personal rewards I was confident my "final" career in aging services was the best choice for me; afterall, it was a career I could retire in!


Given my business background, the various related part time employment and board appointments, the MAS was a perfect match that would provide a spring board into a variety of aging services careers.  For me, it was a well orchestrated plan.


 What did you enjoy about being in the MAS program? Given the demands in my life, I looked for a program that was within 35 miles from home and that had internet based courses that I could take advantage of.  When I began, the program was not completely internet based. 


Once I was into the program, I thoroughly enjoyed the breadth of knowledge that each professor brought to class and the diverse background of each student.


How has your MAS education influenced your career? I had a strong business background and had been in banking for over 18 years, did a stint in a law firm and the MAS was a great compliment to the skill set I had developed over the years.  When I entered into the program, I had the specific intent to be in management.  The MAS does provide credibility, but you have to really build your career by deliberate experiences. 

The Administration for Community Living
Administration on Aging merges with other agencies

By Frances Devine

The Administration on Aging, the Office on Disability and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities have recently joined together to form the Administration for Community Living (ACL). This new federal agency is set up with the goal of bringing the aging and disability community's closer together in the hopes of leading to a mo mp greenlee re effective advocacy for older adults and those with disabilities. In particular, this bureaucratic change is likely to profit those with special needs, by pushing disability issues to the cabinet level. Appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2009, Kathy Greenlee, will serve as the administrator of this new organization. Kathy Greenlee is well-known for her position as the Assistant Secretary for Aging; she will also continue to serve in this role. Henry Claypool, currently the Director of the Office of Disability will become Principle Deputy Administrator of the ACL. This organizational change will maintain the current day-to-day management of the Administration on Aging and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, and these programs will remain relatively unchanged. To read more about the new Administration on Community Living, visit the following web site


Professor Pat Rivard

Patricia Rivard has been an instructor in the Master's program since 2006, she teaches organizational change and aging services and has a great deal of experience in the field of aging. In her spare time, she enjoys golfing or skiing; depending on the weather. We recently talked to her about the program. 


What keeps you coming back and what do you enjoy about being teaching in the MAS program? I enjoy working with adults who bring professional and personal experiences to this learning environment. Each student has theimpr own experiences to bring to the table and I find that I often learn a lot from them. This academic environment also keeps me on my toes so I need to be sure that I am up on the latest trends in the aging field. This also helps me with my ongoing professional development.


Where do you currently work and what is your role there? I am a Senior Research Leader for the Community Living Systems Group at Truven Health Analytics. I work in collaboration with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid for the National Quality Enterprise Team to develop and support quality improvement activities in the home and community based support system. Our team provides technical assistance to states focused on the development of quality improvement strategies for home and community based programs. Because I work full time I only teach one class each year.

Do you see links between your work and your teaching? Very much so. I hope that I am able to bring some real life examples to the students. I know I am able to apply some of the concepts that we discuss class to help me with my job.

What advice would you offer current or future students? For future students, I would encourage communication with graduates of the MAS Program. Our graduates can help you to see the potential of this program to help you to make decisions about what's best for you and your career. Within the program we are working on constructing some succinct way for students to keep in touch with graduates. For current students, I encourage constant communication with your fellow students, instructors, and MAS Program Directors. Don't hesitate on contacting us when needed, we all want to see you exceed your expectations for the MAS program. It is so important to stay connected and ask for help if needed.



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Managing editors: Frances Devine and Ning Xie

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