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When the time is right to have a home health aide, many people are relieved to learn that they may be able to have their loved ones provide their needed services—and be paid for their time.

That’s right, in New York an innovative Medicaid program called “CDPAP” or the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) offers recipients an alternative way to receive their home care services—in effect allowing them to “hire” family members, neighbors, or friends to assist them with caregiving tasks. These providers are then paid for their services.

Happy family with caregivers

The situation is a win-win for you, the patient, because your care is provided by someone with whom you’re comfortable, as well as for the caregiver, who may even have been providing these services previously, but without pay. Unpaid caregiving can take a toll on the provider’s life through missed time at work or with their own families. Through CDPAP they are able to provide the care they want to, while earning a wage.

These caregivers, known as “Personal Assistants” are considered independent consultants and receive payment via a “fiscal intermediary,” which is an entity contracted to provide services under the county guidelines or managed care plan. While you, as the consumer, can distribute payment, most frequently it is processed and distributed by the fiscal intermediary, such as a HHA agency. This streamlines the process for you and ensures compliance with all aspects of the program.

Before you hire an agency to help you access the CDPAP program, you’ll want to ask the following questions:

1. Does the agency have experience with CDPAP?

This is critical, because as you know, the paperwork entailed to access government programs can be voluminous and sometimes confusing, and it’s vital that it be filled out and processed correctly. An agency that routinely helps consumers with the CDPAP program will be familiar with the ins and outs and can make sure that all the necessary steps are followed correctly. In addition, you want to ensure that your caregiver is paid promptly and accurately.

2. Does the agency provide other caregivers, if needed?

Sometimes your daughter goes on vacation. Or your neighbor is having a particularly tough time at work and can’t guarantee he’ll be home in time to get your dinner ready and oversee your bedtime rituals. Or maybe you discover you need a more long-term situation, but without an agency contact, you don’t know where to start.

That’s when using a Fiscal Intermediary that can also assist with finding dependable, trustworthy HHA service comes in handy. Using a company that is agile and capable of providing a seamless transition from CDPAP to Home Health Aide services (and back to CDPAP if necessary) is a major differentiating factor to keep in mind.

While having a personal friend or family member for a caregiver is ideal, many clients prefer the comfort of that agency backup, so make sure you engage an agency that offers the best of both worlds!

3. Is the agency a “Goldilocks” size?

You know what we mean—not too big, not too small….juuuust right. Many clients find they prefer an agency that’s big enough to provide training and continuing education so that caregivers keep up their skills; yet not so big that service quality becomes compromised. It’s ideal to find that sweet spot of the personal service of a small agency, combined with the resources of a larger entity.

4. Does the agency have an effective communication chain in place?

One of the benefits of working with an agency that has successfully communicated with patients, consumers, and employees for many years is that they understand the importance of effective communication.  Check to see if your agency has systems in place to successfully connect the outside world to the inside world (their office). They should be able to address your issues in a timely fashion, 24/7/365.

CDPAP might well be the right program for your needs, and it’s important to work with an HHA agency that has experience and knowledge, combined with a special touch.

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