“He (Clay) has such a great life. He has a great network of friends and continues to stay engaged with the community. The peace of mind knowing that he has the best care and that he has as much freedom as he can is everything. Accra has helped us to make this a reality for Clay and our family.”Pam Julin
With a quick-wit, photographic memory and unmistakable smile, Clayton “Clay” Julin is an active member of his community. He is an athlete who enjoys playing hockey, softball and basketball; a volunteer, consistently visiting local nonprofit organizations through his day program; a hardworking employee at Target; and a friend to many.
Clay’s active and giving lifestyle would not be possible without his mother Pam, who serves as his caregiver and Responsible Party through Accra’s 245D Waivered Services programs. Clay has Down syndrome and currently lives with his mom, which enables him to exercise a lot of independence.
“Before the pandemic, Clay could go many places and participate in activities across the cities,” Pam said. “He used to walk to the corner store and ride his bike to the park.”
The COVID-19 pandemic presented new challenges for Clay. The activities, sports and volunteer opportunities that he frequently participated in, including the Minnesota Wild’s Special Hockey team, suddenly came to a halt.
No matter the circumstances, Pam provides the daily care and support that Clay needs, and she remains keenly involved in her son’s life. When Clay was a child, many daycares would not care for a child with Down syndrome. As a result, Pam worked part-time while doing everything necessary to raise her kids.
As Clay grew, Pam helped him explore different opportunities for engaging with his community, like securing a job and considering potential living situations outside the home. After visiting a group home and learning more about the possibility of living independently with a friend, with hired staff providing care, Clay and Pam decided it was best for him to stay living with his family.
“Clay was reluctant to visit the group home at first, but eventually wanted to see where his friends lived,” Pam said. “Ultimately, I was uncomfortable with the other living options. Though eventually we thought he would live with friends, living at home allows him the freedom to go places and participate in the activities he enjoys.”
In 2016, Pam and Clay found Accra. At the time, Clay did not have services through the county and worked with an outside contractor. Pam reached out to Accra after hearing about the Personal Care Assistance (PCA) program and the possibility of garnering a Home and Community Based Waiver.
Together with their Accra 245D Service Coordinator, Pam and Clay built a personalized plan of care that is flexible, family-oriented, and ensures Clay is getting the best care possible while maintaining his freedom to do the things he loves most.
“The best thing is that Accra has given me the opportunity to be the primary caregiver of my son,” Pam said. “It brings me peace of mind knowing he is being taken care of properly between me and my son, James, as well as some added income, which is a bonus.”
As Clay’s primary caregiver, Pam spends most days with Clay providing care and assistance, and supporting Clay in his daily responsibilities, including chores such as raking leaves and cleaning his room. Before the pandemic, Clay’s routine also included working at Target and planning the day program activities he’d like to attend. In recent months, the two have spent time up north at their family cabin.
As his secondary 245D Direct Support staff, Clay’s brother James, nicknamed Jimmy, provides Respite Care services, including some overnight shifts. As Pam has gotten older, the respite care has been crucial to provide her with time to relax and rejuvenate to enable her to provide the best care she can to Clay. According to Pam, Clay is the superstar in the Julin family.
“Clay is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. He is amazing,” Pam said. “He has such a great life. He has a great network of friends and continues to stay engaged with the community. The peace of mind knowing that he has the best care and that he has as much freedom as he can is everything. Accra has helped us to make this a reality for Clay and our family.”