It takes a team - and some lift - to bring home and community access back to this young man

Date: 03/01/2017

Wellington, KS

Sunflower Health Plan and Pathways™ work together to overcome challenges for individuals with disabilities

Jacob is an outgoing 15-year-old living with his grandparents and younger sister in a split-level home. He also happens to have Progressive Muscular Dystrophy, which requires him to use an electric wheelchair for mobility. The only way Jacob accesses the main living areas of his home and goes outside is to use the lift that was donated to his family several years ago. 

The lift has required many repairs over the years and recently it stopped working and was deemed not repairable.

Jacob’s worst fears came to light: He would not able to access the main level of his home where his family spent time and ate meals together — and more importantly — Jacob would now be at risk in the event of a fire because he could not exit his home quickly or without the assistance of others.

Unable to pay for the repairs, Jacob’s grandfather began using a heavy-duty drill to manually raise and lower the broken lift to allow Jacob to stay a bit longer in his part of the home. Using the drill was very dangerous both for Jacob and his grandfather, however, and eventually, this method ended when a bolt broke while operating the lift, now rendering the lift completely decommissioned.

Jacob’s grandparents moved Jacob downstairs, which enabled them to more easily get Jacob out of the home, but now he did not have the privacy of his (own) room, nor could he use his accessible bathroom, as they were both on the upper level of his home.

While visiting the home to complete Jacob’s Health Risk Assessment, his Sunflower Care Coordinator, Cheryl Koman, was made aware of the situation and reached out to LifeShare’s Pathways Community Living Facilitator, Sherry Biddle, to develop ideas to assist the family.

Cheryl submitted a request to Sunflower Health Plan to help this family with purchasing a replacement electric outside lift. The request was approved, but the family faced another dilemma; part of the existing deck needed to be removed and a cement pad had to be poured before the replacement lift could be installed. The family could not afford to hire someone to complete these tasks. But once again, Cheryl and Sherry went to work.

With the help of their husbands, the two decided to help remove the deck and pour the cement pad themselves. When they arrived that Sunday to begin work, the deck had already been removed by Jacob’s neighbors, leaving only the task of getting the area ready so the cement could be poured.

After working together with Sunflower and the family, Sherry said, “It really shows how teamwork can make anything possible. Jacob is very fortunate to have such wonderful grandparents, good neighbors, and an awesome care coordinator.”

It is this type of support, she added, that allows Jacob to remain in his home with his family, enjoy the privacy of his own room, and access his community safely and easily. And after the lift installation was complete, Jacob said, “I’m able to run the lift all by myself! And my friends think the lift is really cool.”

Added his grandparents, “We’re very grateful to have such a wonderful team to work with."