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Five Reasons Why Self-Directed Home Care is the Healthiest and Safest Service Option During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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The Coronavirus is presenting unprecedented challenges for individuals, families and friends who need to maintain their health while keeping social distance. The evidence is clear: the  most vulnerable to this virus are aging adults with underlying health conditions, individuals with disabilities and the chronically ill. Care and support workers – already a vital  resource for this population – are now more important than ever to ensure an individual’s health, safety and care.

At Public Partnerships (PPL), we commend those in the home care industry for their daily commitment to supporting at-risk people. However, preventing the spread of the virus to our most vulnerable can only be achieved through a strong commitment to social distancing, sheltering in place and reducing the number of people coming to their homes. Through the duration of the coronavirus crisis self-directed home care options should be known and understood by all.

Self-directed home care in your state may be referred to as participant or consumer direction. Regardless of what it is called, it is a care option for Medicaid eligible individuals and their families that puts them in control as they maintain help with daily living activities such as bathing, cooking and cleaning. Traditionally, self-directed home care offers an alternative to admittance into restrictive long-term institutional care, or to using a home-care staffing agency that offers little to no choice and control over your support workers and services.

There are five reasons why self-direction should be considered by all Medicaid eligible individuals and their families during this very difficult time. While we understand that it is not a viable, long-term option or preferable for some, right now self-direction is simply the safest and healthiest choice for our most vulnerable. Here’s why:

  1. Using a known, COVID-19 negative family member, live-in relative or friend to support activities of daily living -- such as bathing, cooking and cleaning -- limits the number of individuals in the home, thereby reducing the risk of virus exposure and spread.

  2. Throughout the crisis, continuity of COVID-19 negative care and support is critical to reduce the risk of hospitalization in an already strained healthcare system.

  3. As more people become unemployed due to the economic impact of the virus, there are more willing and able family members and friends in need of work. Providing care and support to a relative or friend could prove more financially and personally rewarding for them than claiming unemployment benefits.

  4. This is not the time to welcome strangers into homes. Agency-provided care and support workers have greater exposure to the virus and an increased risk of spreading it.

  5. All industries will be impacted by the COVID-19 virus. Agency providers may find themselves with shortages of personal care attendants in the coming weeks and months.

While Public Partnerships has supported self-directed home care for 20 years, we are not advocating for people to make long-term decisions about their personal care now. However, we are advocating for people to choose self-directed service to support the health and wellness of our most vulnerable during this time of uncertainty.

We believe the self-directed service option is the most socially responsible way to further reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you are concerned about your own risk, or have family or friends at risk and Medicaid eligible, we strongly encourage you to take the following actions:

  1. Contact your Case Manager/Support (Service) Coordinator and ask about self-directed options in your state.

  2. If your Case Manager/Support (Service) Coordinator is unsure, every state has resources like Area Agencies on Aging and ARCs that are excellent resources on available service options.

  3. Contact Public Partnerships and we will provide further guidance and assistance.

We are committed to supporting our most vulnerable during this time of crisis and staying true to our name – by being a true partner that is invested in providing the best options and information to keep individuals and their families healthy.