Local professors to study alternatives to nursing homes in rural Pennsylvania

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has awarded a research grant to Dr. Janet Melnick, senior instructor in Human Development and Family Studies and HDFS program coordinator at Penn State Worthington Scranton; and Dr. Heather Shanks-McElroy, MSW, B.Ed., associate professor and coordinator of the Bachelor of Science in Teaching: Child and Society program at Keystone College.

Their project, Home- and Community-Based Care Alternatives to Nursing Homes in Rural Pennsylvania will begin Feb. 1 and end Jan. 31, 2013. The grant they received was for $48,430.

Dr. Melnick, as the principal investigator/researcher, and Dr. Shanks-McElroy, as co-investigator, will document and analyze home- and community-based services in rural parts of the Commonwealth. The analysis will provide an inventory of current services; estimate the future demand for long-term care services; identify the service  gaps between current and long-term care needs; and provide public policy considerations.

Dr. Shanks-McElroy will also serve as a research methodologist and statistician for the project and a student research assistant from each school will be working on the project as well. 

"We are excited to be selected to conduct this research, as this is apivotal time, within the Commonwealth, in terms of funding support for services to the elderly and disabled populations. We see this research as having the potential for real policy impact in this regard," stated Dr. Melnick.

"Keystone College is pleased to be partnering with Penn State University on this important project," said Dr. Shanks-McElroy. "Recognizing the critical role of community-based providers in meeting the needs of the rural elderly and older disabled persons is critical to creating and maintaining a continuum of care that is efficient, financially sound, and responsive to the needs of individuals and families."

The Center for Rural PA is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. It works with the legislature, educators, state and federal executive branch agencies, and national, statewide, regional and local organizations to maximize resources and strategies that can better serve Pennsylvania's 3.4 million rural residents.

The Center promotes and sustains the vitality of Pennsylvania's rural and small communities by sponsoring research projects to identify policy options for legislative and executive branch consideration and action; collecting data on trends and conditions to understand the diversity of rural Pennsylvania; publishing information and research results to inform and educate audiences about the diverse people and communities of rural Pennsylvania; and participating in local, state and national forums on rural issues to present and learn from best practices.