Using self-directed services to receive needed care and support is crucial during these changing times. Consumer Directed Community Supports (CDCS) and Consumer Support Grant (CSG) are two ways that Minnesotans are empowered to direct and lead their own services.
Having the power to choose when and where their services are provided and by whom is important. Individuals with disabilities, seniors and others with long-term care needs face many challenges every day including how they will obtain and keep the assistance they need. There are many different long-term care options available to most individuals but only a limited few which truly provide the freedom and ability for individuals to oversee how they live their life.
But through programs like CDCS and CSG people can take control of those everyday decisions and live their best life. GT Independence is a financial management services (FMS) provider in Minnesota and five other states including Wisconsin and Michigan. GT is guided by its core values of community, integrity, respect, excellence and professionalism.
Perhaps most important to its work is the value of self-determination. GT believes that every individual, those we serve and those we employ, has the right to live a life of their choosing. It is because of this value that we have implemented programs like Caregiver Link, a listing of available staff in our communities for individuals to access if they need staffing solutions.
As the FMS provider, GT works with the individual to complete all required paperwork and tax forms through a simple enrollment process and then assists the individual with hiring caregivers. After enrollment is complete the caregivers are hired and the FMS assumes the responsibility of all administrative functions including collecting timesheets, issuing payroll and withholding/filing taxes. The individuals choose who they want to hire as caregivers, which may include family, friends, and neighbors. The individual has complete authority over how, when and where services are delivered.
With the advent of COVID-19, GT Independence has been there for the people they serve and their employees. Within four days, GT had 400 corporate staff members working from home and telecommuting. GT’s top priority throughout the crisis has been to ensure the health and safety of employees, people they serve and members of the communities during this event. The company is very fortunate to have been able to continue to be fully operational with a few minor adjustments to services.
As the COVID-19 response develops nationally GT has adjusted policies to accommodate emergency changes to program rules and the implementation of the FFCRA act. The company’s leaders monitor ongoing policy changes and provide education to stakeholders across the nation through webinars and website updates.
Since individuals are being forced to stay home and typical caregivers not being able or allowed to provide services, the flexibility of self-directed programs is poised to meet the demand. Self-direction assists in maintaining services at home and provides continuity of care by allowing family and friends to provide support. According to Applied Self Direction, a national organization to promote efficient self-directed programs, self-directed services could be a solution for the staffing shortages and traditional program shortfalls related to COVID-19. They encourage states to look to self-direction as a creative way to provide services and expand self-direction during this unprecedented time.
Recent changes in the Department of Human Services (DHS) requirements for background studies make it easier and faster to hire staff during this crisis. GT excels at onboarding employers and employees with our contact-less eEnrollment process. Once services begin individuals and their staff use the Caregiver App by GT to document work and submit timesheets.
For individuals already using CDCS, the Department of Human Services has offered additional guidance to adjusting plans to make them more flexible during this time.
- Schedules can be adjusted so that workers can accommodate the changing needs or schedules of people using the program.
- DHS clarified that there is no policy for overtime in CDCS. Lead agencies can approve additional hours (including OT) within the current budget allocation.
- Additional hours for paid parents and spouses can be approved up to 40 hours per week, provided they are completing activities related to waiver services.
- There are no limits related to the time of day services from a paid parent can be provided, if appropriate, those hours can be delivered during the day since the child is not at school.
- People using CDCS who have previously received the 20 percent budget exception for their employment services, but can’t currently work are able to use those funds to pay workers supporting them. Self-direction through CDCS and CSG has never made more sense.
With predictions of COVID-19 the next year may be spent in various stages of quarantine; individuals that are not accessing their current waiver services will be needing assistance in their homes. CDCS and CSG provide options for hiring people in their own home, keeping everyone safe and together. For any questions about self-directed models in Minnesota or to learn more, please access the GT Independence website or contact the State Director at 651-247-7107.