“When we faced challenges with our home, Accra helped us find ConnectAbility of MN and both organizations have fought for and advocated for us… I’m excited to find a solution for Anna and am thankful for the partnerships we’ve had to make it possible for her to receive the best care and life possible. She’s grown so much as a result.”Melissa Lanning
Nearly three years ago, Melissa Lanning, an Accra PCA, welcomed Anna Misamore into her home. Anna is a 14-year-old Accra client who was born with cerebral palsy (CP), a neurological condition that impacts the ability to move and maintain balance and posture.
Anna’s condition, as a result of CP, includes spastic muscles, scoliosis and difficulties with speech, communication, movement and eating. CP has also impacted Anna’s ability to walk or stand on her own, so Anna uses a wheelchair to move about.
Shortfalls in In-Home Care Addressed
Due to shortfalls in Anna’s care in her prior home, including inaccessibility for her wheelchair, the county sought a new home for Anna. At the time, Melissa had an accessible home and served as Anna’s PCA, so she was the first one to get the call. She took Anna in with open arms.
“My daughter also has disabilities, and so our home is handicap-accessible. After I told the county I’d take Anna in, she was placed with us the next day. It’s been amazing to watch her grow in our home,” Melissa said.
At the time of the move, Anna was a young teen. But she weighed merely 29 pounds, was very pale and fell sick often. Now, after three years of living with Melissa and her family, Anna is thriving. She has gained 41 pounds, and she has learned more words and how to use her tongue. In turn, her G-tube for feeding has been removed, and she is sick less often. Most importantly to Anna, she has learned small motor skills like how to touch her hair and feed herself.
“Since Anna has gained weight, it has become more difficult for her PCAs and me to lift and transfer her. One of her PCAs threw their back out attempting to lift Anna, and I also have an injured shoulder,” Melissa said. “Of course, I’m worried about further injuring myself, but I’m mostly concerned with dropping Anna and hurting her in the process of transferring.”
To account for Anna’s growth and evolving needs, Melissa consulted with the county to determine updated accessibility needs for Anna. The county recommended a home modification that included building out the bathroom near Anna’s room and eliminating their living room space.
“The dining room table [in our living room] is where Anna does her crafts and talks on the phone, where our family eats meals, and ultimately, a really important space for us. It’s a space I couldn’t give up and didn’t understand why I had to give it up to build a more accessible space for Anna,” Melissa said.
ConnectAbility of MN Partners With Accra
After hearing about the challenges Melissa faced, the Accra team connected Melissa with ConnectAbility of MN, a nonprofit organization specializing in making homes accessible, providing access to assistive technology, and ensuring that individuals with disabilities can live free of limitations. According to Melissa, ConnectAbility of MN has been a big help in working to build an accessibility plan for their home that did not compromise their shared family spaces.
“Our contact at ConnectAbility of MN came up with a fabulous plan for a bathroom extension that enables more privacy for Anna and eases transitioning from the bathtub to her room,” Melissa said. “Basically, the plan includes one lift to ease transferring and moving around the house, and a small, two-foot bathroom expansion that doesn’t eliminate our living room space.”
Together, ConnectAbility of MN and Melissa have worked to build a plan that preserves the family’s social space and furthers the focus on Anna’s needs. The ConnectAbility of MN plan also includes building space underneath the sink so Anna can look at herself in the mirror from her wheelchair.
As her Responsible Party, and now legal guardian, Melissa continues to seek opportunities to ensure that Anna is always well cared for at each turn. With the Accra and ConnectAbility of MN teams supporting her efforts, Melissa knows she can turn her dreams into a reality.
“When we faced challenges with our home, Accra helped us find ConnectAbility of MN and both organizations have fought for and advocated for us,” Melissa said. “I’m excited to find a solution for Anna and am thankful for the partnerships we’ve had to make it possible for her to receive the best care and life possible. She’s grown so much as a result.”