Creative Ways to Find Support Staff

Create Your Own DSP Handbook

New York State is in the midst of a workforce crisis. The number one concern of LIFEPlan MFA Council members and Care Managers is the lack of available direct care professionals. There are several reasons we find ourselves here. Many of them are systemic as well as a lack of funding, but the COVID pandemic has broken an already fragile system.  

While OPWDD is scrambling to address this at the state level, which will take many months at best, our community is has pulled together to find actionable solutions that our members and their families can use now. 

At a recent MFA Round Table event, 17 LIFEPlan members gathered to share resources, explore diverse opportunities and breakdown the hiring process with the goal of creating a database of options that others can access to find support staff. 

CDPA Services 

Consumer Directed Personal Assistants, or CDPA, is an option that allows Medicaid recipients in need of personal care, home health and nursing services to recruit, hire, train, supervise and terminate their own personal assistants.  

Therefore, under CDPA, people with long-standing illnesses or disabilities have much greater control and freedom over their own care than under traditional home care services.  Also, people can hire friends or loved ones to work for them, eliminating potential stress from strangers in the home or language/cultural barrier issues.  

CDPA consumers allocate weekly hours on a flexible day-to-day basis, rather than following a daily schedule of hours set by a third party.   

Bryan O’Malley, CDPAANYS Director in the Albany area, recommended how to search for CDPA candidates. “Look at places within your community where people naturally gather. Community centers, religious organizations and volunteer groups can often be a great resource. Hang up a flyer or post in their newsletter.”  

CDPAANYS is a great resource  to access this program. Note: CDPA is not an OPWDD waiver service. 

LIFEPlan member Michael Moss shared his experience with the CDPA program. In addition to being able to choose his own staff and manage them, Michael said,

I like how CDPA gives me the flexibility to use the hours in a way that fits my schedule. This is really important to me.  

Self Direction Services 

For LIFEPlan members like Nichole Hastings, Self-Directed waiver services  are a game changer. Nichole said, “I was in the NYS pilot program 17 years ago, so have been using self-direction longer than many others.”  Nichole recommends that you use your social network.

I have many friends who are also self-advocates. We are able to share ideas and help each other to get the word out.

Nichole has developed a comprehensive handbook that she uses to self-hire staff in the Mohawk Valley region. Recently, Nichole worked with LIFEPlan to develop a survey to identify priorities members and families should keep in mind when hiring staff.

To create your own DSP Handbook based on your needs, click here for a template!

This list of CPDA/DSP resource sites was created with input from LIFEPlan members and Care Managers.