Consumer Directed Care

I have an older friend, Beryl, who needs assistance in order to continue living in her home. She broke her hip a few years ago and now has difficulty with bathing, housework, and grocery shopping, to name a few of the tasks that we all need to do on a daily basis. Beryl was assessed by SeniorCare and arrangements for a helper come to her apartment a few times a week were made.

Everything was going pretty well, that is, until the pandemic began.

Beryl became afraid of having her helper come into her apartment—despite the many safety procedures put in place by home health worker agencies. So, she cancelled her helper.  This eased her fears somewhat, but created other problems. Beryl wasn’t able to bathe and her apartment quickly became a complete mess. Her daughter brought her groceries, but didn’t always stick to the shopping list.

Beryl called her Care Manager at SeniorCare and learned about “Consumer Directed Care.” Using Consumer Directed Care, Beryl chose and hired her own helper. Her helper was a friend of the family, easing her concerns about having an unknown person come into her home during the pandemic.  As circumstances have changed in the past year, Beryl’s helper decided to return to school, and Beryl found herself looking for another worker. The home care agency worker pool has been impacted by the nationwide worker shortage, and Beryl was placed on a waiting list for a worker. Returning to the Consumer Directed Care program, Beryl was able to quickly hire a cousin to provide her services.

Consumer Directed Care is available to people who have been assessed and found eligible for a state-funded home care program. The consumer becomes the employer, is allowed to choose their home care worker (or workers), set their schedule, and assign tasks that fit specific needs that may not be allowed with a traditional home care agency, such as assisting with pets, certain cleaning tasks, and assistance with unique medical care as they train the worker themselves in carrying out these tasks.  A “Fiscal Intermediary” (FI) agency takes care of the payroll, tax withholding, and other accounting tasks that are required of a legal employer.  The FI agency is contracted and paid by SeniorCare. The rate of pay for the worker, who submits a weekly timesheet, is determined by state mandates. The consumer is responsible for the hiring, training, scheduling, and—if needed—the termination of the home care worker.

The consumer chooses their own worker, but must follow some basic rules. The worker may be a family member, but may not be the consumer’s spouse. The worker must be

  1. Legally authorized to work in the United States and have a social security number
  2. Able to pass a CORI screening
  3. Able to understand and carry out directions from the consumer
  4. Willing to receive training and supervision for all designated tasks

Consumer Directed Care is an excellent option for elders wishing to take more control of their care. If the consumer needs assistance with managing the responsibilities of being an employer, a surrogate may be brought into the picture. A surrogate may manage the entire program for the consumer or may assist with specific tasks. The surrogate can be a spouse, friend, neighbor, or family member.  The surrogate cannot be the worker.

For more information about Consumer Directed Care, please call SeniorCare at 978-281-1750 and ask to speak with an Information & Referral Specialist or with your Care Manager if you are already a SeniorCare consumer.