If you’re choosing to sign up for the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP), either as someone who requires home care or as a personal assistant to a friend or family member, as you research agencies to partner with, ask about the communication procedures they have in place. Listen carefully to how they deal with you as a consumer. This is a program that is very human, and it requires a team of strong, skilled communicators at its heart.
The CDPAP program offers a way for close friends and family members to be able to take care of their loved ones and be reimbursed for their time by Medicaid. But as we all know, family life can be utterly unpredictable. Life has a habit of throwing unexpected events into the most carefully planned schedules, whether it’s a health emergency, technology that suddenly stops working, or some other unpredictable life event.
In all of these situations, you need to work with an agency that has a team with the flexibility, full-proof systems, and emotional intelligence to be able to swiftly provide support.
What to look for
Here at Special Touch CDPAP, we have a team of multilingual coordinators who run the day-to-day operations. Each consumer and personal assistant who comes into the program gets assigned a service coordinator. One of the primary responsibilities of the service coordinator is to set up schedules for consumers and their caregivers and ensure those schedules are accurately entered into our scheduling system.
The schedule is a vitally important piece of the program. The insurance company will authorize a particular number of hours, for example 20 hours a week, and sometimes there will be required slots of time that the PAs need to cover. As we speak to the caregiver and PA, we figure out what works best for both parties and make sure it sits within the insurance company’s requirements. A strong schedule leads to simplicity—it makes sure that the consumer gets consistent care, and the personal assistant (PA) gets paid the right amount, on time.
We work with weekly schedules that run from Saturday to Friday. Every day that personal assistants work with their clients, they clock into a phone service by calling in from the member’s cell phone. Our team closely monitors a dashboard, keeping an eye on everyone’s “clocks”. If someone doesn’t clock in, or does so from an unrecognized number, they quickly get a follow-up call from our team.
Sometimes this is a case of the personal assistant and consumer needing to rush out to a doctor’s appointment—and they simply forget to clock in. At other times, the PA may have technical issues and isn’t able to get into the phone system to initiate the beginning of their shift, or they may simply have some unexpected change of conditions and can’t be there on time. Whatever occurs, it’s essential that these calls are made to ensure that the consumer is being looked after and their hours are being tracked accordingly—and that back-up measures can be put into place immediately, if necessary.
Bad communication breeds risks
We have been offering home health services for over a decade, and have amassed a wealth of experience about how to do this right. There can be serious consequences if your agency doesn’t have a fluid system in place for communications. If a consumer doesn’t clock in for the day and the team doesn’t swiftly follow up with the caregiver, there can be serious safety repercussions. The consumer may have had a health issue and need urgent care—and these instances must be reported to their insurer immediately. Equally, problems will crop up with the PA’s payroll if they aren’t able to log into work correctly. By having a team of coordinators on hand to check schedules throughout the day and make changes where needed, people are always safe and wages are paid on time.
Organize a back-up caregiver
We always encourage our clients to organize a back-up caregiver, so that in the event of an emergency or someone being unable to work, another person can step in to assist. This is something the coordinators also assist with. If caregivers are not able to work on a certain day, all they have to do is call into our office and inform the coordinator of the change. The coordinator will then call the second caregiver to ask for their assistance, and update the IDs on the insurance information so that the correct payments are made.
As you talk to various agencies, ask them about their communications systems—and listen carefully to how they treat you on the phone or in-person. You want to work with an organization that is caring, considerate, and hyper-organized. You need a team of kind, fluid, and agile professionals who will help to step in to take over when their colleagues may be out of the office—and always be ready to help.