Nancy Kusmaul, social work, receives “Outstanding Individual in Academia” award from the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy 

Published: Apr 26, 2024

Two adults stand side by side holding an award
Nancy Kusmaul and Charles E. Lewis, Jr., director of the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy. (Image courtesy of Kusmaul)

Nancy Kusmaul, associate professor of social work, a scholar and advocate for the rights of older adults and professional caregivers, received the “Outstanding Individual in Academia” award from the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy in March 2024 at a ceremony on Capitol Hill. Kusmaul’s work is informed by her 10 years of experience as a social worker and over a decade of novel scholarship. 

As co-chair of the Committee on Aging for the Maryland Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Kusmaul helps advance programming for seniors, professional development for social workers in the aging field, and inform policy and legislation. In 2019, Kusmaul served as a  Health and Aging Policy Fellow at the office of U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services learning about how Congress and the executive branch create policies that affect care for frail older adults. 

Social work advocacy and policy

An adult with short black hair, brown rimmed glasses, and a short sleeve black blouse with flowers stands inside a cafeteria with chairs in the background
social work
Nancy Kusmaul (Marlayna Demond ’11/UMBC)

“During my time as a nursing home and hospital social worker, I witnessed the day-to-day impact of policy on practice, when families had to choose between the best of less-than-desirable options. As a scholar, I answer questions and promote policies to improve those options,” says Kusmaul. Her research and advocacy focus on improving nursing home care and organizational culture as well as the understanding of trauma experiences on direct care workers, care recipients, and their families.

 “Advocacy is a central tenet of social work, and this award recognizes my time, collaboration, and leadership in this area on behalf of older adults and their families,” says Kusmaul who recently published “Let’s cut out the ageism and the notion of getting ‘too old’” in the Baltimore Sun.

Kusmaul’s first textbook, Aging and Social Policy in the United States, is one of the first textbooks designed to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the conditions and policies at the local, state, and federal level that affect the rights and interests of senior citizens.

Measuring nursing home care

Her work continues in the classroom and the “lab” as a co-investigator in a new interdisciplinary research project with principal investigator Roberto Millar, M.A ’19, sociology, Ph.D. ’20, gerontology, a policy analyst advanced at The Hilltop Institute at UMBC, and co-investigator, Ian Stockwell, associate professor of information systems. For the first time, the researchers will also combine data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Care Compare database and results of the Maryland Family Satisfaction Survey. The survey assesses the experiences of family members with loved ones in Maryland nursing homes and, Kusmaul’s research, offers a unique approach to measuring quality of care.

“There are no national measures of nursing home quality that consider the experiences of family members,” she explains. “When we think about what quality is and the outcomes we’re measuring, we have to think about the different perspectives of what is good nursing home care.”

Halaevalu Fonongava’inga Ofahengaue Vakalahi, president and chief executive officer of the Council on Social Work Education, who attended the March event in D.C., said, “This award is absolutely well-deserved because Nancy is a champion of all things aging and gerontology. There could not be anyone more fitting for this award!”

Learn more about UMBC’s School of Social Work.

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