UCCS has shared a very special relationship with the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities (CICD). In addition to participation in grants and fellowship programs and the annual conference sponsored by the institute, UCCS faculty and graduate students have enjoyed regular personal conversations with the Institute administrators and founders. These conversations have explored the intersections of aging and disabilities work, partnerships for faculty and students in working with persons with cognitive disabilities across the lifespan, opportunities for careers of emerging scholars, and public-private partnerships to develop and test technologies that engage persons with cognitive disabilities in maximizing personal autonomy and person-directed care. The relationship between UCCS and the CICD has been shepherded carefully and enthusiastically by Executive Director David Braddock and Associate Director Enid Ablowitz.
Executive Director David Braddock made a funding commitment to this program when it was under review by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, a show of support that lent credibility to the proposed program. The partnership that has emerged from this commitment has been innovative and powerful. Every cohort of geropsychology doctoral students has benefitted from the opportunity to be Coleman Fellows. Students and faculty have consistently participated in the annual Coleman Institute conference that emphasizes research on technology to promote wellness. The natural crossover application for technologies to support persons with lifelong cognitive disabilities and late-onset, age-related cognitive disabilities has bred creative partnerships with Colorado-based companies as well as multi-campus collaborations on research. The initial Coleman Fellowships that supported geropsychology students has morphed into two services-research fellowships co-funded by The Resource Exchange with matching funds from CICD.
Research on Cognitive Disabilities
The Coleman graduate Fellowships support research of trainees in the intersection of disabilities and clinical Geropsychology. Ashley Williams completed a dissertation study of aging families’ resistance to future planning for adults with cognitive disabilities. Current projects include a study of the adults on the waitlist for disabilities services, and a study of dementia in persons with Down’s Syndrome. The annual Coleman conference introduced two Colorado companies to Coleman Fellows and involved faculty that has led to research collaboration on technologies to foster self-management of health as well as pro-social engagement of families with cognitively impaired elders.
Behavior Intervention Training Program
A three-way partnership among UCCS, The Resource Exchange, and the Coleman Institute has built a behavioral services program that meets needs of individuals and families while serving as a training program. The training aspect of this services program ensures that the field is growing a much-needed professional workforce to meet the needs of future generations. Among the students who have trained in this program are two who currently staff a new Developmental Disability Health Center where primary care is delivered in an integrated model that includes behavioral health.
Health Center for Persons with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities
The Coleman Institute was a funding and leadership partner of a visioning Summit in 2007 where the concept for this Center first was formed. Entitled “Promoting and Maintaining Health for Adults with Developmental Disabilities: A Pikes Peak Region InterAgency Initiative”, this Summit convened international experts to guide local health service system leaders in visioning a local model for excellent integrated care. The Coleman Institute helped this Summit happen by providing funding and connections with experts. Within 4 years, the dreams from that Summit became reality under the guidance of David Ervin, Executive Director of The Resource Exchange and local partners including Peak Vista Community Health Center and Aspenpointe. The Director of Behavioral Services (Dr. Ashley Williams) is a product of the geropsychology program and the serves training program, for which she now serves as lead trainer and clinical services administrator.