“There is no one I wouldn’t recommend Accra to… Accra can handle what’s on the table and always keeps the focus on the client. That’s the main focus. If there’s something I can’t do for Cora, I call Accra and they have been right there to help me figure out the problem.”Danny Ellis Sr.
Cora Ellis’s feisty and charming personality has always won over most everyone she meets. Her father Danny Ellis Sr. – who is also an Accra 245D Personal Support Staff for Cora – said she and her siblings were raising mayhem together since the beginning.
“One time when she was young, Cora and her brother brought a running hose into the house,” Danny said. “She’s always been a wonderful child despite the challenges we’ve faced.”
Cora was born with a rare developmental disorder called Williams Syndrome (WS), which impacts many parts of the body and is often characterized by various medical complications, such as cardiovascular issues, developmental delays, intellectual disability and distinctive facial features. Alongside her WS, Cora is also diabetic, which requires careful oversight into her daily food and medication intake.
Due to her WS, Cora needed open heart surgery at the age of three. Yet, when Cora awoke from the surgery, a new challenge emerged; the surgery left Cora paralyzed from the waist down.
“Before her heart surgery, Cora was able to walk,” Danny said. “I couldn’t imagine waking up one day and not being able to walk.”
Turning to Accra’s 245D Waivered Services
Years after her surgery, Cora’s mom passed away, which left Danny to solely take over Cora’s care. At the time, Danny said life was challenging, and the family was teetering on the verge of homelessness. During this period, Danny was working through a different PCA agency to support his daily work as Cora’s primary caretaker. However, after running into some issues, he sought out a new agency and found Accra.
Danny started working with Accra’s Personal Care Assistance (PCA) Choice program in 2014, serving as Cora’s PCA. A couple years later, Accra helped Danny determine that it was in the family’s best interest to transition to the 245D Waivered Services Programs.
“The 245D Personal Support program supports the same work that the PCA Choice program did but has given me more flexibility to lead Cora’s care, easily track my timesheets and receive my payments,” Danny said. “Overall, Accra has helped me get through the tough times and has guided me to the channels to take care of any problems we’ve faced.”
Today, Cora is 27 years old and lives at home with Danny and her sister, Maria. Danny helps Cora with activities of daily living, and each day often starts with the same routine. Danny helps Cora bathe, groom and change before preparing breakfast. Typically, Cora then heads to her day program where she does some community work, engages in arts and crafts, participates in cooking classes, attends movies or goes to activities like bowling, which she loves.
“Basically, I’ve been there for Cora as her primary caregiver since she was about 14 years old and I don’t necessarily need someone else to do what I do for her,” Danny said. “In this way, Accra has enabled me to continue to provide the care I always have for Cora but get paid fairly for my caretaking work.”
Gaining Independence at Home
At times, Danny says that Cora can get frustrated when she wants to do something more independently, but Danny is always there to help and support her.
“Sometimes Cora will look to me and say, ‘I can’t walk, Dad’,” Danny said. “At these times, when things get hard or she gets frustrated, I remind her that she is a blessing to us. Cora really brings strength to the home and to our family.”
Though most days are filled with daily care activities, carefully planned meals, and Cora’s day program, Danny also finds additional ways to make sure that Cora gets out of the house and has opportunities to do the things she loves. After Cora returns from her day program, Danny helps her bathe again, sets out clothes for the next day, makes dinner and as often as he can, sets up a fun activity to partake in together. Recently, the two have enjoyed picnics outside and a drive-in movie.
“There is no one I wouldn’t recommend Accra to,” Danny said. “Accra can handle what’s on the table and always keeps the focus on the client. That’s the main focus. If there’s something I can’t do for Cora, I call Accra and they have been right there to help me figure out the problem. The only way I would consider leaving Minnesota is if Accra moved too. Accra has helped me continue to provide the best care for Cora and build a steady life in Minneapolis.”