PLATTSBURGH – The Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program has been an ideal option in helping Michaela Bushey reach goals she has set for herself.
Bushey, who suffered a spinal cord injury in 2010 that left her wheelchair bound, chose to utilize the program so she could continue with her education as well as the day-to-day activities of her busy life.
“Originally, my option was to have the Clinton County Health Department provide home-care services,” she said as she recently described the route she followed in finding convenient support. “But that was not a good option for us to run on their schedule.
“In, the consumer-directed program, you decide who works with you and on your terms,” she added. “You set your own hours, and you train and hire your caregivers. It has been a lot easier for me (working with the program), especially as a young adult.”
Bushey, 21, returned to college at Ithaca University after the accident and completed a semester of student teaching at Plattsburgh High School last December.
“We hired someone to help me get up and out to school each day,” she said. “That worked out very well, but once school was over, our lifestyles were no longer compatible, and I needed to find someone else.”
The choice was not that difficult: she hired her aunt, Mary French, and her fiancé, Kyle Devins, to share the duties.
“It has worked out really well,” she said, noting that her aunt is available for the weekends and to help her with some of her more personal needs while Devins is able to take her to her physical-therapy sessions and also provides her with the opportunity to continue her social life.
“We spend so much time together,” she said of her six-year relationship with Devins. “We have the same circle of friends and enjoy going places together.”
Relatives and friends can be hired as caregivers through the program. Parents, a spouse or anyone living with the consumer is not eligible, however.
Devins, who went to Ausable Valley Central School and Ithaca College with Bushey, is leaving in the fall for his first semester at medical school. At that time, Bushey will have the option to hire another caregiver as she moves onward with her own goals.
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