PLATTSBURGH – North Country residents living with physical impairments may benefit from a program that helps them maintain a level of independence.
The Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program, which is available to Medicaid-eligible residents, offers people who are in need of home-care services an opportunity to manage their own care.
“It’s a program for people who need help with such everyday tasks as getting out of bed, taking care of personal hygiene, shopping for groceries and house cleaning,” said Andrew Pulrang, executive director for the North Country Center for Independence in Plattsburgh.
“It’s also appropriate for some higher priority tasks such as taking meds, therapies, self-treatment, changing bandages.”
In a more typical home-care program, a consumer’s provider takes responsibility for overseeing and managing the consumer’s care, including such needs as scheduling times for aides to visit the home.
With the Consumer Directed Program, the consumer takes on that responsibility in managing the services he or she needs.
“Normally, in-home care providers have to have a certain level of training,” Pulrang said. “In this program, the consumer doesn’t need that training because you are aware and able to direct your own care. You’re able to negotiate your own care.”
Thus, consumers can make such decisions as who they work with by hiring, training, supervising and – if needed – dismissing their personal assistants. They can also determine how and when their plan of care gets managed.
The Department of Social Services makes the determination of whether a consumer is eligible for the Consumer Directed Program or a more traditional home-care program.
“First and foremost is eligibility,” said Richard Holcomb, adult services supervisor for the Clinton County Department of Social Services. “These are Medicaid-eligible clients whose medical condition limits their function but who can direct their own care or have someone willing to direct care for them.
“We go out and do a nursing assessment and social assessment,” he added. “We look at what their specific needs are, what informal support system they have.”
If a person is deemed eligible by Social Services, the North Country Center for Independence can then assist the consumer in finding appropriate home-care support.
“We do have a list of people (who can provide in-home assistance) that we keep as up-to-date as we can,” Pulrang said. “People who start the program can start with that list or put an ad in the paper if they wish.”
Clients can also hire a friend, neighbor or family member to perform needed tasks. However, a parent, spouse or typically someone who lives in the home with the client cannot be hired as a personal assistant.
“Probably the biggest hurdle for people is the ability to locate help,” Holcomb said. “There is a lot of responsibility for the consumer. We have to know that there is a backup plan; what plan is in place if an aide cannot make it in one day?”
Consumers need to keep track of the personal assistant’s work schedule. An independent agency takes care of financial issues, including payroll and tax withholdings for personal assistants.
The Department of Social Services will continue providing assessments every six months to determine whether a client should continue with this or move into another program.
“Just as with any home care, it’s important to realize that this is a form of health care, not the only form,” Pulrang said. “It may be best for some and not for others. It’s a choice, an option.”
There are about 20 consumers in the region who are benefiting from the program at this time, he added. Some require assistance for nearly 24 hours each day while others require only a few hours of support each week.
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TO LEARN MORE
For more information about the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program, contact your local Department of Social Services.
To find a list of Social Services offices, go to http://is.gd/ds3lnZ.