ACR Homes and Roseville, MN: Committed to Inclusivity for Minnesotans with Disabilities

ACR Homes and Roseville, MN: Committed to Inclusivity for Minnesotans with Disabilities Main Photo

2 Jul 2024

Group home providers for people with disabilities seek to foster positive care options for individuals and their families. Their staff must be talented and comfortable with medical procedures and general healthcare, but equally important, they must be caring persons who live to help others.

“At ACR Homes, we enjoy helping individuals and their families live successful lives,” said Deb Nygaard, Director of Development at ACR Homes. “We have found that ability to do so largely due to the staff we can source from Roseville.” 

The City of Roseville, MN, is dedicated to delivering an inclusive environment for all its residents and visitors. The City Council approved an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Anniversary Observance Proclamation at its June 17 meeting. The annual proclamation celebrates progress in Roseville toward fostering an inclusive environment free of physical, communication and social barriers over the 34 years since the original ADA. It also acknowledges the need to continually improve and provide increasingly accessible services and programs to Minnesotans with disabilities.

Acceptance, communication and respect

Perhaps there is no better example of this dedication in Roseville than ACR Homes, which provides residential support services for people with physical and developmental disabilities. Owners Jim and Dorothy Nelson opened the first ACR home in 1981 for six students graduating from high school. Today, ACR supports over 200 individuals in over 50 homes throughout the five-county Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, including seven in Roseville. ACR staff also care for elderly individuals through its sister company, Arthur’s Senior Care, at a Roseville and a Shoreview location.

The "ACR" name is an acronym that stands for acceptance, communication and respect. That last term - respect - has been reciprocated many times, reflected in numerous awards. It has been named one of Minnesota’s top 25 large companies in the Star Tribune's Top Workplace survey for over ten years, including two #1 rankings. In 2024, ACR was ranked the #18 employer in the Star Tribune Top Workplaces for 2024 in the 500+ employee category, but it was the #1 in its healthcare category.

ACR Homes also received three national 2024 Top Workplace Culture Excellence awards. The Purpose & Values Award recognizes companies with a clear sense of purpose and values that their employees endorse and motivate them in their work. The Innovation Award recognizes organizations that have created a culture where new ideas are encouraged. The Leadership Award recognizes companies with leaders who inspire their employees to help carry out the company’s mission.

Quality, caring staff

Nygaard points to its quality staff as the characteristic that separates ACR. Work can be challenging, as a typical client is non-ambulatory, requires an accessible home and 24/7 care, has 7-15 diagnoses, needs 30-80 medications and treatments each day, and has 40-80+ doctor’s appointments per year. To care for these clients, staff receives about 70 hours of training to learn not only ADLs and community inclusion but also how to pass medications and use specialized equipment and procedures such as patient lifts, seizure management, feeding tubes and pumps, ostomy care, supplemental oxygen, diabetes care, advanced airway suctioning and catheterization.
“We want our homes to be a sanctuary for our clients, and we have to hire the right people to make that happen,” she said. “As an organization, we define ourselves by a certain set of values, and you want to find and train staff with the same values.”

Most of ACR’s homes have an on-site, live-in supervisor or assistant, which greatly benefits the residents and other staff. They lend stability to the residents and their families, knowing someone can check in anytime. But they also serve a specific role for other staff members.

“Through their consistent experience, they can help other staff members be successful by speaking ideas about what specific individuals like and what works with them,” said Nygaard.

A significant aspect of that hiring revolves around its internship program. ACR works with college students in various area degree programs related to their area of interest. Students benefit by gaining more valuable experience than a full-time Certified Nursing Assistant gets regularly, and a positive letter of recommendation for future use. ACR benefits by attracting incredibly bright and compassionate people who can potentially become employees. However, ACR’s clients may benefit the most from this. 

“The work many of these incredibly bright students develop and perform changes the lives of our clients, whether it's through increased mobility, assistance with dementia-related issues or numerous other categories,” said Nygaard.

Inclusive partner

ACR has a long history in Roseville, beginning with the owner's residing there. While the organization’s presence is throughout the Twin Cities, it is anchored in Roseville, with its corporate office there. Many amenities and services in Roseville and the nearby Twin Cities are accessible and free.

“There is very little you can’t get accomplished close to home, making it great for the people we support in our group homes,” said Nygaard. 

Roseville’s advantages extend well beyond physical location. Arthur’s Senior Care is just one organization that collaborates with the Roseville Alzheimer’s and Dementia Community Action Team, formed in 2013, to proactively assist people living with dementia and their caregivers living in Roseville. City leadership and the Economic Development Department are very involved in the community. City planners and building officials are responsive and helpful in things like resolving code issues or applications for zone changes and variances, Nygaard said.

“The Mayor and the City Manager listened to our concerns during the COVID-19 lockdowns and have been very understanding, while the Economic Development department knows us well, too, and is supportive of our business, offering suggestions and encouragement to check out numerous options,” she said.

That attitude is a general reflection of the Roseville community, said Nygaard.

“We have so many interns and employees who are Roseville residents, and they are extremely bright and caring individuals,” said Nygaard. “ACR has a very positive reputation in our communities, highlighted by a 300+ person waiting list, and a significant part of that is due to Roseville.” 

Care for the future

As the Nelsons, Nygaard and other staff look toward continuing their exceptional care into the future, they recognize a rapidly growing need for dementia care services amongst their seniors, as well as exploring the possibility of expanding Arthur’s Senior Care within the next few years.

The Roseville Economic Development Authority knows caring, responsible businesses like ACR Homes play a significant part in crafting the high quality of life Roseville is known for. The EDA has an unwavering commitment to fostering community, supporting local businesses, and providing an exceptional experience for those living, working or recreating in the area.

"The Roseville Economic Development Authority (REDA) coordinates and administers economic development and redevelopment initiatives for the City of Roseville, MN. It serves as a comprehensive resource for businesses seeking to startup and grow in the area. In addition to prioritizing business retention and expansion, the REDA connects area employers with the dedicated and talented workforce they need to succeed and thrive."