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Sarah, a 55-year-old CORD consumer with cerebral palsy lived alone and had no computer or access to the internet.  She needed a Personal Care Attendant (PCA). While she was approved for hours through the MassHealth PCA program, she was having difficulty finding one because of the lack of internet access. PCAs perform tasks of daily living such as grooming, eating, food prep, hygiene, dressing, transferring, light housekeeping and more. These services can mean the difference between living independently in the community and ending up in a nursing home. Many people use the PCA directory or Craig’s List to find a PCA, but this just wasn’t an option for Sarah. She was worried.  She valued her independence and, having previously spent time in a nursing home, she did not want to go back. Sarah reached out to CORD for help.

Jeri DiCostanzo, CORD’s Transition Coordinator was very familiar with the PCA program as a family member had used it. While she was showing Sarah how to search for a PCA, she reached out to one that she knew. This PCA wasn’t available, but her daughter Jenny had joined the ranks of PCAs and a connection was made. Sarah and Jenny met and Sarah offered her the job.

Centers for Independent Living (CILs) like CORD are run mainly by people with disabilities and by people who have a connection to the disability community.  This is what makes CILs stand apart from most agencies. Staff are able to use their personal life experience to assist their consumers. In this case, Jeri’s knowledge of the PCA program and her connection to PCAs was invaluable to Sarah.

If you need a PCA, check out the Mass PCA directory, sponsored by the PCA Workforce Council. It offers a comprehensive and current list of people in Massachusetts who are ready to provide personal care and consumers who are hiring PCAs. Visit www.masspcadirectory.org to get started! If you need help navigating the directory or learning how to find a PCA, call CORD at 508-775-8300.

*Names have been changed