With the assistance of her DSP, Michelle Cover, Terri makes it to her feet for the first time in many years. It’s a significant step on her road to greater independence. Photo provided
With the assistance of her DSP, Michelle Cover, Terri makes it to her feet for the first time in many years. It’s a significant step on her road to greater independence. Photo provided
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of articles featuring the people and programs of Cardinal Services in their 60th anniversary year.
Terri is a 50-year old woman with cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability. She has spent her entire life in a wheelchair, though in her youth she was able to bear weight for short periods of time. This gave her a small level of independence since she was able to move herself from the chair to other positions whenever she chose. Yet, over time, she lost that ability, becoming totally reliant on her staff for the past 30 years.
Terri is one of 60 people participating in Cardinal Services’ adult classroom program. Known as Day Services, the program serves adults with a diagnosis of intellectual or developmental disability. Her class is made up of Terri and five other women, and each day is busy honing skills like writing and working at her CTB assembly work.
It was not always the case for Terri. For many years, she sat in her apartment day after day with little or no interaction. The state, which funds services to people with disabilities through Medicaid, determines how many hours of support a person may receive. Terri’s hours were set at 1 ½ hours each day. This left no one to assist her with the exception of 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes at night to help her in and out of bed and with personal hygiene. If she needed to go to the bathroom in the interim, she had to wait. If there was something she wanted to see or do or tell someone, she had to wait – wait for those precious 45 minutes.
After her 2002 annual evaluation, the state realized that Terri’s being alone had drained away much of her ability. She needed either to be placed in a nursing home or else to begin receiving Day Services. So Terri began coming into Cardinal Services during the day. It has made an enormous difference in her life.
Setting, working toward and achieving goals is the theme in Day Services. Perhaps someone needs to develop the ability to fold their own laundry or be able to fill a cup with water when they are thirsty. These are basic skills the direct support professional staff (DSPs) teach each day. The goals are as varied as the individuals. One gentleman’s goal is to write stories and he is doing this on a regular basis. Another wants to lose weight so he can walk a 5k.
After talking about it for a couple years, Terri decided to take on a formidable goal. She committed herself to rebuilding her strength to the point where she can once again bear  weight and move herself from her wheelchair to other seating. That independence is something she wants. So she and her DSP, Michelle Cover, went to work, and after months of exercise and effort, Terri made it to her feet. “I was willing to talk about it,” Terri says about her goal, “but I didn’t know if I could do it. Michelle makes it fun.”
Terri recognizes the changes in herself, the growth in her abilities and even her simple desire to try things. “I’m pleased with the way I’m doing things now,” she says, “and I think I can do more. I just need to go at my own pace because I go slow.”
Terri may be moving slowly, but she’s moving in a positive direction. That’s the hope for every person in Cardinal’s Day Services.
To learn more about Cardinal’s Day Services or schedule an appointment for a tour, call Day Services Coordinator Norma Bauer at (574) 371-1366.
In the next installment we will discuss the WIC nutrition program, administered in Kosciusko County by Cardinal Services.