Tom Grimes says his worst fear is to be in a nursing home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grimes has been a quadriplegic for more than 30 years. He was 19 years old when he was hit by a car and broke his neck. Since then, he has received care at his own home.

“It was just scary, and I couldn’t imagine myself being caught, or being stuck, in a nursing home,” says Grimes.

What You Need To Know

  • CDChoices is founded by people with disabilities

  • The program allows consumers the ability to pick their caregiver

  • Those on the program say this has helped them feel safer during the COVID-19 pandemic

Grimes has been working with Amy Edson, his primary caregiver, for more than 20 years. Before that, he says he had a rotating list of health aides.

“For the first, I believe eight or nine years, I was in a typical home care agency, which I have to admit was just the most difficult time in my life because of how the program was set up, where they send whoever they want. It was a new person every day,” says Grimes.

Edson came to Grimes through CDChoices, an Albany agency founded by a woman with a disability. The company is funded through Medicaid and says the goal is to link someone with a caregiver they’re comfortable with and trust. Grimes is also on the board.

“Out of everything I’ve done since my injury, this was the most empowering choice I made,” says Grimes.

He also believes controlling the people inside his home, and having the same caregiver throughout the pandemic, has limited any chance of COVID-19 exposure.

“We do our best to keep him healthy,” says Edson. “That’s our main priority.”