“It’s the people at Accra that make it easier for us. Each person I work with is always there to answer questions and help when we need it. Everything is supported when working with Accra.”Melissa Lanning
Anna Misamore and Melissa Lanning’s paths first crossed years ago. Melissa had just started working as a Personal Care Assistant through Accra’s PCA Choice program and became Anna’s PCA, helping her with day-to-day care. Little did Melissa know that working with Anna would change her family forever.
“When I started working with Accra, I became Anna’s PCA and at the time, she lived with her parents and siblings,” Melissa said. “Often, the county would call asking me to pick up Anna from school because she was sick. Anna was severely underweight, pale and had frequent stomach aches.”
Anna 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, difficulties with speech, communication, movement and eating, and therefore she required a G-tube for regular feeding. CP also impacts Anna’s ability to walk or stand on her own, so she utilizes a wheelchair to move about.
To manage her condition, Anna did not have the necessary support or care in her home environment. As a young teen, Anna weighed merely 29 pounds and fell sick often, yet she was cared for primarily by her siblings and PCAs. Anna’s home was not equipped with the accessibility accommodations needed for her wheelchair, making moving around and transferring difficult.
One day, Melissa got the call – Anna needed to be placed in a new home that could better support her needs.
“The county called because I have a handicap-accessible home. They were looking for a place for Anna and asked if I’d take her in,” Melissa said. “I said yes and the next day Anna was placed with me.”
Through collaboration with Anna’s other PCAs, Melissa helps Anna with everyday care needs, including eating, lifting and transferring Anna, as well as bathing and changing. In turn, Melissa also brings some fun into Anna’s life – taking her swimming or out in the snow; playing cards; helping her color and do crafts; and even creating a five-wheel camper with a ramp so Anna could enjoy family trips.
Now, after three years of living with Melissa and her family, Anna is thriving. A social butterfly, Anna has learned more words and how to use her tongue. She has gained about 40 pounds, her G-tube for feeding has been removed, she is sick less often, and she has learned small motor skills, such as how to feed herself.
“People with disabilities teach us so much, and it’s been amazing to watch Anna grow in our home. She was so excited when she learned how to touch her hair,” Melissa said.
Recently, Melissa legally adopted Anna, and she continues to find ways to keep Anna comfortable and happy in their home. As her Responsible Party and legal guardian, Melissa works closely with Anna’s PCAs and Respite care staff to ensure she is well cared for and will be for life.
“It’s the people at Accra that make it easier for us,” Melissa said. “Each person I work with is always there to answer questions and help when we need it. Everything is supported when working with Accra.”