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Open Circle's Mark Rosen Receives National Adult Day Services Association Award

November 01, 2019

Mark-Rosen-IMG_6571-web.jpgWe are excited to share that Director of Therapeutic Programming Mark Rosen at Open Circle Adult Day Services received the National Adult Day Services Association Administrator/Director Award this year. The award recognizes Mark's innovation in working with institutes of higher education to offer internships for multiple disciplines at our Open Circle sites. The internships have a significant impact on the members we serve, while offering us the opportunity to partner with community organizations and affect surrounding communities as well.

How and why did the internship program begin?

Mark-Rosen-IMG_6557-web.jpgIn 2011, Open Circle began an ambitious and innovative Academic Outreach program. The goal was to utilize college level interns to enhance current calendar programming, allow for more simultaneous activities to be offered and to increase individualized engagement opportunities for members. The Academic Outreach project achieved these goals but became something much more substantial, reshaping the organization’s entire curriculum, service capabilities and relationship with the broader community. The various pilot projects and successes of  our Academic initiative has received widespread attention and has been highlighted in print, radio and TV news media.  Most importantly, it has served to enhance the person centered experience of adult day services for our membership. The core benefits of this innovative program are highlighted below.

1. Interpersonal Connections:  Since 2011, Open Circle's Academic Outreach program has brought in more than 520 students from 11 different colleges and universities and as many different departments and academic disciplines from community college to doctoral level. The Outreach program has provided over 26063 hours of student-member engagement experiences including individual, group and project focused programming. These are quality hours of interpersonal connectivity for our members who all too often deal with symptoms of depression and isolation as their chronic illness limit social engagement and recreational activities or hobbies. The diverse nature of participating students also serves to break down barriers and stereotypes between the two populations. 

2.  Community Life Opportunities:  The Academic Outreach program has empowered and challenged student interns to develop  collaborations and lasting partnerships with other community non profits in order to further the Open Circle’ organization’s outreach and programming objectives. Examples of student led partnerships include: local schools, theaters, art galleries, philanthropic groups and the Elks. These projects create engaging Community Life opportunities for our members and provided college interns with invaluable real world leadership experience.

3.  Expanding and Enhancing Programming Capabilities:  The Academic Outreach program has enhanced our organization’s ability to provide multi-faceted health and wellness experiences for our membership by augmenting our program staff’s skill sets with other important disciplines including:

  • Art Therapy interns from Adler Graduate School provide quality art based engagement,
  • Occupational Therapy interns from the University of Minnesota and Anoka Technical College collaborate to modify and adapt Open Circle’s calendar programming to allow for increased success and comfort while developing entirely new forms of therapeutic engagement and individualized plans of care.
  • RN Nursing interns from Metro State University and Normandale Community College complete a variety of assessments of our program, systems, and program environment to improve our person centered programming and environmental productivity.   
  • Human Service and Psychology interns from the U of M, Metro State and North Hennepin develop new and unique therapeutic engagement programs. They can take themselves out of daily schedule tasks to provide one to one engagement experiences which supports both members and staff.

4.  Work Force Development:   Student experience working with older adults with dementia in a community based setting is vital to providing an important tool for work force recruitment and retention, a commonly shared challenge in the non-profit world.   Students completing lengthy internships become immersed in our unique work environment, connect with our staff and membership and make ideal on-call or part time employees as they continue their education.  

5.   Positive impact upon student perspective:   Open Circle’s Academic Outreach program has offered hundreds of future healthcare professionals the opportunity to experience community based services in an adult day setting.   These students develop a clearer and more complex working understanding of the challenges, needs and capabilities of older adults with chronic illness. Open Circle’s academic outreach experiences actively combat stereotypes, ageism and artificial limitations which our society places upon older adults. Students have expressed an increased sense of respect, empathy and understanding through their multi-faceted engagement with our membership.