SSON study finds health benefits of ‘aging in place’ at TigerPlace

Care at independent living facility helps older adults avoid declines in physical, mental and cognitive health outcomes.

First published May 27, 2022 by Show-Me Mizzou. For more information contact: Brian Consiglio, 573-882-9144,

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) found the majority of older adults want to stay in their own home as they age. However, given the natural decline in health that comes with aging, some older adults may have to move into a nursing home or assisted-living facility to receive more intensive levels of care.

To help older adults live independently as they ‘age in place,’ researchers at the University of Missouri analyzed eight years of health data from 2011 – 2019 for more than 190 residents at TigerPlace, a senior living facility developed in partnership between the MU Sinclair School of Nursing and Americare Senior Living.

Researchers found that because registered nurse care coordinators were able to identify illnesses early and quickly in residents and provide them with appropriate care and services, most of the older adults living at TigerPlace were able to stay healthier longer, which allowed them to comfortably ‘age in place’ and reduced their need to be transferred to a nursing home for more intensive levels of care.

TigerPlace combines the convenience and privacy of individual apartments with many recreational and socialization opportunities, such as sports bars, fitness centers, live music performances, pet therapy visits, dominoes, Bible study, bingo, volunteer opportunities and programs with local churches.

The residents at TigerPlace received health assessments from registered nurse care coordinators every six months related to cognitive functioning, completing daily tasks, depression, the risk of falling and physical functioning. Additionally, some residents chose to use noninvasive motion, bed, and depth sensors to trend level of activity, respiratory and heart rate, and fall detection. Changes in activity, new or increased falls, and assessment were used to identify illnesses, such as pneumonia or a urinary tract infection, as early as possible so interventions could be provided quickly.

“The benefits of both the regular health assessments and use of non-invasive sensors helped to keep them steady as they age comfortably,” said Lori Popejoy, lead author on the study and an associate professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. “The goal is to identify slight declines in health as early as possible so the right services can be put into place, whether it is connecting them with a doctor, beginning therapy or starting treatment to depression, whatever is needed based off the assessments.”

Popejoy added the exercise and socialization opportunities available at TigerPlace help improve both physical and mental health outcomes, as well as reduce the risk of falls by improving muscle mass and strength. The average age of study participants was 84.

“The residents are able to use these services to enhance their quality of life in retirement, which allows them to live longer independently,” Popejoy said. “For older adults that are still living at home and maybe starting to notice increased difficulty completing daily activities, or for those who are struggling with social isolation, moving to a facility like TigerPlace can be very helpful for living a healthier life longer and possibly avoiding the need to ever move to a nursing home.”

The research study was interdisciplinary in nature, involving collaboration among nursing students, medical students, social workers, engineers and information technology professionals.

With May being ‘Older Americans Month,’ Popejoy has dedicated her career to improving the quality of care for older adults. She has provided hands-on clinical care in a variety of health care settings, from hospitals and nursing homes to community centers and home health care agencies.

“Longitudinal analysis of aging in place at TigerPlace: Resident function and well-being” was recently published in Geriatric Nursing.

2022 May Commencement

Friday, May 13, 2022
Start Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Jesse Auditorium – Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Students arrive between 4:45 and 5:20 p.m. Check in on 2nd floor.
Parking: Turner or Conley parking garage (no permits or fee required)

Tickets: Not required

Ceremony: 1 hour and 15 minutes 


Having trouble viewing the livestream? Click here.


You can download the Spring 2022 Commencement program here.

For all University of Missouri Commencement Information visit this webpage.


Enjoy and download all of the photos taken by our in-house photographer including headshots, graduation pinning and #Mizzoumade photos! Professional photos taken at graduation will be available at a later day and sent to our students by email. Do you have photos you would like to share with the Sinclair School of Nursing of your graduate? Don’t forget to tag us on social media!

SSON professor serves on national panel examining nursing home care in U.S.

Original story published by Show Me Mizzou.

April 18, 2022
Contact: Brian Consiglio, 573-882-9144,

From staffing shortages to underpaid staff and a lack of personalized care, issues that have plagued nursing homes for decades in the United States were exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine organized a team of 17 national nursing home experts, including MU’s Marilyn Rantz, a Curators’ professor emerita at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. The panel, which first met in fall 2020, recently released a national report providing recommendations to the U.S. Congress for improving the quality of care in nursing homes throughout the country.

The report highlighted seven key priorities:

  1. Deliver person-centered, equitable care that promotes autonomy and manages risks.
  2. Ensure a well-prepared and appropriately compensated workforce.
  3. Increase transparency and accountability of finances and operations.
  4. Create a more robust financing system.
  5. Design a more effective system of quality assurance.
  6. Expand and enhance quality measurement and quality improvement.
  7. Adopt health information technology in all nursing homes.

“The COVID-19 pandemic lifted the veil and exposed some of the problems that have existed even before the pandemic,” Rantz said. “As an independent group of experts in this field, our goal is to use evidence-based research solutions to solve complex problems and advise Congress on potential actions that will ultimately improve the quality of care in nursing homes.”

A nurse for more than 52 years and one of MU’s most successful and productive researchers, Rantz has earned more than $100 million in total grants and authored or co-authored more than 200 research studies throughout her career at MU. She has dedicated her career to improving the quality of care in nursing homes.

“One of the most practical things we can implement in nursing homes immediately is incorporating the preferences of the residents themselves into care plans,” Rantz said. “Some simple examples might be ensuring a resident has clean pajamas each night before going to bed, a cup of coffee each morning or a square of chocolate in the afternoon to brighten their mood. It can also be providing socialization opportunities, such as bingo night or music groups, or even time to walk outside every day to get fresh air.”

Rantz said some evidence-based recommendations that nursing homes should implement immediately also include staffing at least one registered nurse in each nursing home 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and hiring both a full-time social worker and an infection prevention and control specialist per nursing home. Another top priority is increasing wages and benefits for staff.

“Other goals going forward include the enhancement and enforcement of minimum staffing standards, increasing the transparency of finances to ensure money is being used appropriately, and ensuring state agencies have adequate resources. In addition, we hope to eventually plan toward the establishment of a federal, long-term care benefit that would expand access and advance equity to all adults who need long-term care, regardless of their ability to pay,” Rantz said. “Nursing homes were particularly affected by the pandemic, and when you look closer within the nursing homes, people of color were disproportionately affected.”

An expert in chronic illness management, leadership and quality improvement, Rantz began her career as a nurse in 1970 before becoming a nursing home administrator in Wisconsin, where she led a staff of more than 400 people, overseeing a 300-bed nursing home.

“What makes an effective leader is someone who is caring, someone who values their staff, listens to them and encourages them as someone who has been in their shoes,” Rantz said. “If a nursing home is dealing with constant staff turnover, there might be something wrong with the way systems are set up, and correcting those issues can help boost morale and overall care delivery.”

To help address the country’s nursing shortage, the MU Sinclair School of Nursing’s new 64,585 square-foot facility, expected to be completed on MU’s campus by fall 2022, will allow the school to increase class sizes and graduate more nurses.

“Creating new knowledge through research and educating young people are what the university is all about,” Rantz said. “I am proud of our nursing students, who often go on to work in underserved communities with high demand for educated nurses.”

During her time at MU, Rantz helped lead the Missouri Quality Improvement Initiative. This program, funded by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), implemented advanced practice registered nurses full time into Missouri nursing homes, which helped nursing home staff identify illnesses earlier and reduce avoidable hospitalizations. In 1999, she also developed the Quality Improvement Program for Missouri (QIPMO), a program that provides free clinical consultation of best practices and infection prevention to all Missouri nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Rantz still leads the program today, and the program is a national model for other states to improve quality of care in nursing homes.

“I have been passionate about getting evidence-based practices infused into nursing homes, and hopefully programs like this can serve as a model that other states can adopt,” Rantz said. “As a national panel, our overall objective is to improve the way our country finances, delivers and regulates care in nursing homes.”

AACN/CDC grant will help nurses boost confidence in COVID-19 vaccine

April 11, 2022
Story written by: Brian Consiglio, 573-882-9144,

Original story posted on

As an assistant teaching professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, Stefanie Birk knows there are nursing students unsure of how to talk with people hesitant about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Being a public health nurse herself, Birk has been in similar situations and is passionate about equipping the next generation of nurses with the knowledge and confidence they need to have conversations that ultimately promote public health.

To help increase knowledge and confidence about the COVID-19 vaccine among nurses and the communities they serve, Birk and an interdisciplinary team of educators and researchers at the University of Missouri have earned a grant from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) with funding through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We want to prepare our nursing students as they get ready to graduate and go on to become nurses serving our communities,” said Birk, who teaches public health classes to hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. “By incorporating these lessons into their current curriculum, they will be better prepared going forward to have effective conversations with people who may be feeling hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The content will be incorporated into Birk’s current ‘nursing in communities’ course for the spring 2022 semester as well as future semesters. The updated course content will cover topics including vaccine development, safety and efficacy, vaccine hesitancy, differentiating between factual, evidence-based information and misinformation related to COVID-19 vaccines, motivational interviewing, health communication and social media marketing.

“We want our students to not only have knowledge about the COVID-19 vaccine, but also to feel empowered and confident to engage with members of local communities who might feel hesitant about it, and to target key rural and underserved populations in Missouri where vaccine hesitancy may be more common and the vaccination rates might be lower,” Birk said.

Birk also will work with faculty and students from the Missouri School of Journalism to identify effective communication strategies, including print advertisements, billboard advertisements, radio advertisements and social media marketing strategies. The project will end in June, when the students, some of whom may be graduating in May, will earn a certificate signaling they have completed the curriculum. Resources from the curriculum will be shared with nursing programs at Lincoln University and Central Methodist University.

“When having these conversations, part of our health promotion strategy is to acknowledge people’s feelings, listen to what their reservations are, and then use encouragement and motivational approaches,” Birk said. “Whether it is in a clinical setting or with family and friends, we want to offer support and promote public health outcomes.”

Birk is collaborating with Mary Fete, Valerie Bader, Deidre Wipke-Tevis and Malaika Gallimore of the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, and Jon Stemmle and Kathleen Rose of the Missouri School of Journalism.