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Monday, February 05, 2007

Meeting of the Minds

After years of receiving invitations and being unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts, the stars finally aligned and I was able to make it to the quarterly advisory luncheon held by my attendant care services provider, the Jewish Employment Vocational Services (JEVS).

Pictured next to me are (from left) Ann Doloff, of the Pennsylvania Initiative for Assistive Technology (PIAT); Barbara Cohen, Attendant Care Advisory Committee Chairperson; and my attendant, Monica.

In addition to brief presentations by various program administrators, Ms. Doloff, the invited guest speaker, spoke to us about PIAT's lending library, which provides people with disabilities the opportunity to borrow and evaluate assistive technology items -- special telephones, mouse devices for the computer, page-turners, adaptive software, etc.

I have been a "consumer" of attendant care services for over 10 years now (I have written about the joys and horrors of attendant care in my autobiography). These services are a vital part of my daily life. Although I require skilled nursing care, insurance only pays for 16 hours of nursing per day. My attendants help to fill the gaps in my nursing coverage so I don't have to depend on my parents as much.

They help me with very important tasks such as getting in and out of bed, bathing, and toileting. Many of my attendants have been certified nursing assistants (CNAs), but friends, neighbors, relatives, or students can be paid as attendants. The particular program in which I'm enrolled through JEVS is free of charge, funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The luncheon was informative and gave me the opportunity to meet some other consumers and attendants, as well as administrators whose names I recognized from attendant care program correspondence over the years, but whom I had never met before. It was a lot more pleasant of an experience than the 20° weather outside. The grilled salmon and roasted potatoes also helped!

If the calendar gods cooperate, I plan to attend future luncheons. Hopefully, they won't fall on the coldest day of the year, like today.

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