Disabled living solutions now in Lafeyette County

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The West Central Independent Living Solutions, an organization developed to help individuals with mental or physical disabilities branch out on their own, now has an office in Lexington, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator Laylan Hecker announced.

"We have three offices. One is in Warresnburg, one in Lexington and the other in Sedalia, and we basically work to keep people living independently so they don't have to go to nursing homes or move in with their families or group homes," Hecker said.

There are five main programs offered by Independent Living, all of which offer individualized assistance in order to facilitate an easier living situation for those who need it.

One of the programs shows how one simple change to your average home can make it accessible to someone with a disability, Hecker explained.

"One is the ramp program. Because a lot of people who are in wheelchairs live in places they do not have easy access to... so what they do is apply with us and we assess the need and then provide all of the materials and volunteers to actually build them a ramp," Hecker said.

Dusty Harrison cares for her husband who suffers from a disability that alters his sense of balance and comprehension, Harrison explained. Before receiving a new wheel chair ramp from Independent Living, she said the ramp she had made herself was all she had to work with, and it was not close to regulation wheelchair ramp standards.

"The one I had was too steep, it didn't touch the guidelines," Harrison said. "I started at six, and they came out at seven and we worked until 10 o clock that night. I wasn't going to let them do it themselves."

Now, she explained, she doesn't have to worry about being able to get her husband's wheelchair up the ramp, and can get him in and out of the house and to the hospital if necessary.

Other programs include the Consumer Directed Services, a program that allows individuals to be diligently involved in choosing their own home care nurse or aid, and transportation services, which is driven by an on-staff driver to anywhere someone involved with the program may need to go.

"We have a big wheelchair-accessible van, and we own it as well as have our own driver on staff. So, if someone needed transportation to the doctor's office or grocery store in six counties, we could go and pick them up," Hecker said, adding that for this program there is a small fee but is set on a case-by-base basis.

The six counties served by Independent Living are Johnson, Lafayette, Pettis, Benton, Henry and Saline. Lexington is their newest office and Hecker said they already have almost 100 clients in the area.

"It's the one that's really growing," she said.

Besides the programs mentioned above, all clients who become involved would get what Hecker called the four-core services offered to everyone who joins. The four services include information and referral:

"We work with a lot of different agencies so if we don't have a program that fits their needs, we'll do our best to call around and get them what they need from somewhere else;" advocacy: "We work with [clients] so they can advocate on their own behalf. If they're having a problem with a utility or landlord, we coach and teach them to be able to stand up for themselves;" peer support: "If we have someone who is also in a wheelchair, they can support each other and know what each other is going through" and independent living skills training.

All of these services, Hecker said, are meant to help ease the lives and burdens of Lafayette County's disabled citizens.

As a nonprofit organization, Independent Living is funded through federal grants and Medicaid reimbursements.

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