Helps People Live Independent Lives
by Karen Fetter
Life doesn’t have to be a struggle for someone with a disability. Instead, life can be lived to its fullest. That is how accessAbilities, Inc. sees it, according to public relations director Kathy Yandura. For over 50 years, this nonprofit organization’s goal has been to help people with disabilities live independent lives in their homes and communities.
accessAbilities, Inc serves some 1,500 people in Westmoreland, Indiana, and Armstrong counties with an extensive team of experienced and knowledgeable staff. ‘We always put the person first, not the disability,’ explained Kathy. ‘We want the community to realize the importance of seeing the person first before seeing a disability.’
Services are offered for both children and adults. The program for children is from birth through three years and involves early intervention. Each child has specific needs, and counselors develop individualized service plans for each child. Children experiencing developmental delays can often be helped with physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, special instruction, or vision and hearing therapies.
Another program for children is the Kids Klub. Kids Klub is a structured weekly play group that provides education, socialization, and family support. The program is free and is available in Westmoreland and Armstrong counties. The class is staff directed but still involves the parents. The goal of the program is for parents and caregivers to learn how to continue to work with their toddlers outside of the group. Kids Klub also offers special activities such as trips to the Pittsburgh Zoo, Idlewild Park, and Sea Base.
Another accessAbilities offering is the Elks Home Service Nurse Program. The Elks Lodge founded this program to help those with a severe, chronic disability attributed to a mental and/or physical impairment before the age of 22. (Though people in the program can remain in it permanently.) Services include: in-home medical case management, advocating for an individual’s rights, assessing needs, locating equipment, assistance with goals, acting as a liaison between medical professionals and family, assistance with residential options, and help with home care.
As part of the Elks Home Service Nurse Program, nurses help the family with finding resources and in making connections with other programs.
Adult services, for those over the age of 18, are also available through accessAbilities, Inc. These services help facilitate independent living, including attendant care, access to technology, specialized therapies, homemaker services, community integration, non-medical maintenance support, respite care, home modifications, and personal care assistance.
‘We empower people to live on their own. One person may only need someone in the morning and before bed to help them change, bathe, and eat. Others may need help to clean their home, while still others may need 24 hour assistance. Whatever services are needed, accessAbilities, Inc. works to provide them,’ said public relations Director Kathy Yandura. accessAbilities offers a wide range of services in helping those with disabilities lead independent lives.
For example, some people might have to renovate their home to accommodate a new way of living. accessAbilities can assist in these home renovations so a person can live on one floor and still remain independent. This extra help is sometimes all it takes to maintain an independent, happy, and safe lifestyle.
The agency’s goal is to empower individuals to live independently when often the other choice would be to enter a nursing home. Kathy reports that an average cost of a nursing home is $67,000 per year. Attendant care services through accessAbilities cost on average less than $25,000 per year, and these services are most often paid through government waivers.
Furthermore, accessAbilities believes in consumer choices. Therefore, each client is able to select the type of care they would like to receive. There are two service models available: agency directed and consumer directed. Each type of service is explained to the client or the client’s family, and they can decide which would be best suited for them and their needs.
accessAbilities, Inc. was founded in 1954 by four families that each had someone diagnosed with cerebral palsy. They renovated a three story home in Spring Church, Armstrong County so they could provide therapeutic services for children. At that time the organization was named the Western Pennsylvania Cerebral Palsy Institute.
In 1958 the organization became affiliated with the United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Western PA. As the years passed, the organization’s scope of services expanded to include help for people with all types of disabilities. However, despite its evolving scope of services, the organization was still perceived as a cerebral palsy organization. To solve this dilemma, the name was changed to accessAbilities, Inc. in 2004.
Also in 2004, the organization relocated its corporate offices to the Bishop Connare Center in Greensburg, then known as the St. Joseph Center. Currently accessAbilities, Inc serves more than 1,500 people per year.
accessAbilities, Inc. was recertified with the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations Seal of Excellence in 2007. Originally certified in 2004, accessAbilities was one of the first organizations in the state to receive such an honor. The certification process has 56 standards and eight principles that provide a benchmark for agencies. Receiving this seal means they have the highest of standards and ethics.
If you are interested in learning more about accessAbilities, Inc. tune into WCNS radio (1480 AM on the dial or www.1480WCNS.com) for a monthly radio show at 8:30 a.m. on the fourth Saturday each month. One of accessAbilities, Inc. customers is interviewed for each show. In the interview, the person discusses how the program has helped him or her achieve a healthy lifestyle and live life to its fullest.
To learn more information about accessAbilities, Inc. call 724-832-8272 or visit the website at www.accessabilities.org.
To learn more information
about accessAbilities, Inc.
accessAbilities, Inc. call 724-832-8272 or
visit the website at www.accessabilities.org.