Sometimes the job of a Care Manager presents extraordinary opportunities to improve the lives of not only people we support but extends to peers and others alike. Such is the case with Abigail Remington, and the member she works with, Ed Duryea. Ed is a LIFEPlan Member & Family Advisory Council (MFA Council) member and self-advocate, whose experience opened the door for others to get access to high-speed internet services, something particularly valuable during this time of major disruption due to the pandemic.
When Abigail started working with Ed he had computer skills but access to internet was limited to pre-paid data cards. Paying with his own budget, the data went quickly, and the internet connection, was super slow and frustrating. Ed works as a self advocate, and needed access to email and the web. Unfortunately, the house he lives in only allowed staff access to the internet for network security reasons.
Before his annual LIFEPlan review meeting, Abigail decided to raise the issue again, creating a goal of Ed’s need to have internet access available, allowing him to work online at day hab. When this goal was questioned at his next meeting, another goal was addede for Ed to “be more independent” to continue his access.
In the meantime, Ed was very frustrated that he couldn’t have the same internet access at home as he did at day hab. Even though setting up a new account for Ed at home was a simple matter, it didn’t happen. Getting independent internet connection for him was deemed too expensive to install and maintain.
Ed continued to advocate for internet access for himself and others at one of his MFAC meetings, and the Council agreed that it didn’t seem right. One of the members intervened with a direct request to the CEO of the partnering provider. At this point the pandemic had hit New York, ending day programs and Ed’s internet access, which added to Ed’s isolation and loneliness.
But Abigail and Ed’s persisted, and with help from an MFAC advocate, Ed was successful in getting internet installed at home. Shortly after following up with the CEO, Abigail got a phone call from Ed and he was ecstatic. They had just finished setting up his new internet access, and the best part was he did not have to pay for it from his budget. The partner provider said they would provide access for him at no cost!
But the good news didn’t stop there. As a result of Ed’s advocacy, more houses in the provider’s network are getting hooked up with internet as well.
This access means Ed and his Care Manager communicate quicker and more often via email. Abigail sent him links to fun, safe websites and she is helping Ed with research on his family, including his longstanding goal of locating and providing a gravestone for his father.
“We have been emailing back and forth constantly, and the internet access we fought for helps him not only with his ongoing advocacy for himself and others but has also provided connection and activity during this difficult time,” said Abigail. “I bet he never thought he would be doing this just a few years ago. He is so good with research he is learning about his own genealogy. I can’t wait to see what he does with it.”
Now that Ed’s house has internet availability, he intends to continue to advocate for others for access to the basic service, and through his work with the LIFEPlan MFAC, find ways to make accomplishing this simple dream easier for all.
“He’s so good at the internet! I believe under the right circumstances anyone can do exactly what Ed does if given that chance because he has been able to do so much more now that he has this accessibility,” said Abigail. “I am so happy for him because he is becoming more independent, and that is so important to him!”