Center for Research on Aging and Disability Options (CRADO) University of Kansas School of Social Welfare

Center for Research on Aging and Disability Options (CRADO)

CRADO has pioneered the strengths-based approach in work with older adults & people with disabilities. We are leaders in applied research to improve social service practice & policy with older adults. Our office prepares tomorrow's scholars & practitioners in gerontological & medical social work.


To develop & evaluate essential supports and services designed to maximize the independence and well-being of older adults & individuals with disabilities. We engage in community-driven, strengths-based research to help guide policy & practice focused on key health & social service transitions. Educating the next generation of leaders in our field.


2021 - present

This survey and interview study examines the system response to the COVID-19 pandemic in home-based care in Kansas.  How did the pandemic impact the delivery of home care? How were new safety practices identified, negotiated, and enforced? How did the pandemic impact the well-being of those who receive and provide this care?  In this community-engaged study, perspectives will be gathered from those who receive and provide Medicaid-funded home care services in order to learn what worked and what didn’t work.  The end goal is to identify policies and practices that can improve home and community-based services and supports for consumers, caregivers, and workers.

For more information about this project, go to Care and Safety Practices During COVID-19 in Home Based Care | Home Care Study (

Click here for study findings and results COVID-19 and HCBS Homecare Study Website

Researcher Studying Care and Safety Practices In Home-Based Care During Covid-19 Pandemic

Carrie Wendel-Hummell and Tracey LaPierre presenting a poster at the 2022 Academy Health Conference


CRADO partners with state and federal agencies, LTSS providers, consumers & affiliated KU centers & departments

SW 833

The KU School of Social Welfare offers a concentration course addressing social work with older adults as well as a variety of aging practicum settings to suit your interests.

Social Welfare 833: Social Work and Aging will prepare students for a variety of job settings as well as expose them to multi-disciplinary and multi-generational aspects of gerontological social work. Social Welfare 833: Social Work and Aging is constructed to incorporate a broad range of knowledge and skills pertaining to social work with older adults.

The Sigler Family Aging Scholars Program aims to develop the next generation of leaders in the field of gerontological social work by offering an innovative, individualized, and community-engaged learning opportunity to Bachelors and Master’s students in the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare who demonstrate a passion for serving older adults through multi-level gerontology practice, policy, and research.

Learn more on the Sigler Family Aging Scholars Program webpage.

You can find resources on social work careers in Aging at The Geriatric Social Work Initiativeand The National Association on Social Workers. Geriatric social work ranks as one of the top 20 careers in terms of growth potential. The number of older people, particularly those over 85, is growing, and they need more assistance to remain active and independent. Well-trained, aging-savvy social workers serve as "navigators" and "expediters," empowering older adults and families to understand and choose among the bewildering array of available health and social services. They also provide counseling and direct services, facilitate family support, and coordinate care delivered through professional systems.

Past Projects

Below are recent past projects conducted by CRADO

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) contracted with CRADO to develop a Medicaid Functional Eligibility Instrument (MFEI). The MFEI will be used to determine eligibility & support needs for Medicaid Long-Term Services & Supports (LTSS) for customers who have physical disabilities (PD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) or who are frail elders (FE). The nursing home population was also included. Throughout the course of the project, CRADO partnered with the Research and Training Center on Independent Living, KU Medical Center, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, Community Developmental Disability Organizations, KanCare MCOs, Long Term Service & Supports Providers & Medicaid consumers to ensure the tool was responsive to stakeholders needs. The MFEI tool is based on interRAI tools, with state specific adaptations and was widely tested to ensure validity and reliability. CRADO also developed training materials to accompany the tool.

Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Evaluation: PACE is an innovative program that provides all health and long-term care for older adults under a single capitated payment, and holds promise for containing Medicaid costs while improving quality of care. In this project, we compared Medicaid cost expenditures and selected health outcomes for customers in PACE to matched customers in Home and Community Based Services/Frail Elderly (HCBS/FE) and Nursing Facilities (NFs). Our findings can inform decisions on managing and expanding the PACE program.

Pace Final Report

In FY09 the Center for Research on Aging and Disability Options (CRADO) began a study to examine the mental health status and needs, interventions, and discharge patterns of older adults using Medicaid who reside in Kansas nursing facilities (NFs). For mental health status and needs, this study will analyze the characteristics (e.g., demographics, mood, behaviors) associated with NF residents mental health diagnoses and identify potential barriers to addressing mental health needs. When examining interventions, we will investigate the mental health interventions currently in use as well as identify emerging and evidence-based practices and/or interventions, with a focus on interventions that could assist Medicaid residents with mental health needs in discharging from NFs to community-based settings. In order to examine discharge patterns, the mental health status and need, and interventions will be investigated for their relationship to discharge patterns and NF tenure. The findings from this study will provide background information for the future implementation of mental health interventions in nursing facilities and recommendations for the training of NF staff members and CARE assessors.

Below are links to the project reports from this study:

Community Supports

Diagnoses and Follow-Up

Essential Elements for Successful Discharge

Successful Discharge Scenarios


Contact the CRADO Leadership Team

Carrie Wendel-Hummell

Carrie Wendel-Hummell

White woman with long dark brown hair and freckles, wearing a black blouse with a silver neacklace

Lora Swartzendruber

Project Coordinator
Tracey LaPierre

Tracey LaPierre
Associate Professor, KU Department of Sociology

Affiliate Faculty
Danielle Olds

Danielle Olds
Research Assistant Professor, KUMC School of Nursing

Affiliate Faculty
Woman with shoulder length dark brown hair wearing a black sweater and a long silver chain necklace

Sarah Jen
Assistant Professor, KU School of Social Welfare

Affiliate Faculty
Woman with shoulder length wavy blond hair wearing a purple shirt and dark green jacket

Terry Koenig
Professor, KU School of Social Welfare

Affiliate Faculty