Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Human Services (DHS) today held the first of a series of information sessions for health care and service providers in preparation for the third phase of implementing the Community HealthChoices (CHC) program. CHC will coordinate health care coverage to improve quality for older Pennsylvanians and those with physical disabilities, serving more people in communities rather than in facilities, giving them the opportunity to work, spend more time with their families, and experience an overall better quality of life.
The third phase is scheduled for January 1, 2020, and will cover counties in central, northeast, and northwest Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.
“The Department of Human Services has seen great success with the CHC rollout in the Southwest and Southeast,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “The phased rollout of CHC has given us time to listen to participants, providers, and stakeholders and hear their experience with the program so that by 2020, we will be delivering the best care possible to more than 400,000 seniors and adults with physical disabilities across the commonwealth. We look forward to expanding the service offerings to the final regions in January 2020 and are preparing providers and eligible participants for this transition.”
Ahead of the final implementation, DHS has coordinated efforts with the managed care organizations to host provider information sessions as well as participant information sessions. Throughout May and June, provider sessions are being held in various locations around the Phase Three zone. In the fall, participant information sessions will be held offering eligible community members the opportunity to learn more about this program and to gather resources and ask questions to choose a plan that will meet their needs. Information about which counties are included in the final phase of implementation is available here.
“CHC is providing options for so many Pennsylvanians in their communities,” said Acting Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. “This is especially noteworthy because we know that the majority of older adults want to age in place. CHC is serving seniors so that they can have the opportunity to work and spend time with their families, all while having access to long-term services they need.”
CHC was established to enhance care and service coordination, improve health outcomes, and increase availability of community living options for individuals requiring long-term services and supports. By offering these services and supports in a managed care delivery system, DHS is working towards better quality of services for older Pennsylvanians and individuals with physical disabilities as well as budget predictability. Preliminary data from the Southwest shows that in CHC’s first year, the rate of individuals served in the community increased from 49.7 percent to 52.2 percent.
“One of our top priorities is to continue to enhance the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of the supports and services available to serve more people in communities, giving them the opportunity to work, spend more time with their families, and experience an overall better quality of life,” said Secretary Miller. “This continued investment demonstrates a commitment to supporting elderly Pennsylvanians and adults with physical disabilities.”
CHC was first launched in southwest Pennsylvania in January 2018 and southeast Pennsylvania in January 2019. Currently, more than 210,000 older Pennsylvanians and adults with physical disabilities have an active voice when choosing how and where they receive their services and supports through CHC. The rollout in the remainder of the state will include approximately 143,000 individuals. When fully implemented across the state, CHC will impact more than 400,000 Pennsylvanians, 94 percent of whom are dually eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.
This listserv has been established for ongoing updates on the CHC program.
“Working with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, like Down syndrome or autism, can be complex and challenging even for those with years of training. But one group — law enforcement — often encounters people with these conditions in high-stress situations, with little or no training at all.”
“Photos of Ethan Saylor are displayed on his mother’s kitchen table.” – Meg Anderson/NPR
by Meg Anderson
“Working with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, like Down syndrome or autism, can be complex and challenging even for those with years of training. But one group — law enforcement — often encounters people with these conditions in high-stress situations, with little or no training at all.
“Patti Saylor knows all too well what the consequences of that can be.
“Her son Ethan, who had Down syndrome, died after an encounter with law enforcement when he was 26. It’s a tragedy she believes could have been prevented.”
Long-Awaited Assistive Technology Funding Guide for People with Disabilities and Older Pennsylvanians is Published
“Local organization helps Pennsylvanians navigate complicated process of paying for assistive technology devices and services in a free, user-friendly guide”
KING OF PRUSSIA, PA—Today, Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) is bringing clarity to the complex process of funding assistive technology (AT) by publishing an easy-to-read guide, Funding Your Assistive Technology: A Guide to Funding Resources in Pennsylvania (http://www.patf.us/fundingyourat/), the first of its kind to be compiled for people with disabilities and seniors in Pennsylvania.
“At PATF, we define assistive technology as any device that helps a person with a disability achieve a more independent and productive life. Examples include a ramp into a home, smart home technology, and hearing aids,” explains Susan Tachau, Chief Executive Officer of PATF. “These devices are critical for many people with disabilities to go to work, live in their own homes, and actively participate in the community.”
The conversation around assistive technology is often centered on new advancements and innovative applications, while consideration for how to pay for this technology remains an afterthought. In fact, one of the leading obstacles for many people in obtaining assistive technology is finding the money to pay for it. And, there are many circumstances to take into account when developing a funding solution. A person’s diagnosis, age, whether or not they are a student, where they live, whether or not they work, their financial situation, and their wants and needs all factor into determining what funding options are available.
The friendly tone of Funding Your Assistive Technology: A Guide to Funding Resources in Pennsylvania, leads readers through the decision of choosing an appropriate assistive technology device and/or service to developing a funding strategy with simple instructions and sound advice. The Guide suggests: “Look at your objective first and work backwards from there: ‘What am I trying to do?’ and then, ‘What technology or device would best support me in reaching this goal?’ It’s easy to be wooed by fancy marketing and flashy technology, but by focusing attention on the task you are trying to accomplish—the functional skill—you are more likely to find the device that most closely fits your wants and needs.”
Topics covered include:
- What Is Assistive Technology?
- Choosing My Assistive Technology
- Developing a Successful Funding Strategy
- Accessing Assistive Technology Through Home and Community-Based Waiver Programs (including Community HealthChoices)
- A Funding Resource List
- Saving for Assistive Technology: ABLE vs Special Needs Trusts
“This comprehensive guide is an easy-to-use resource for Pennsylvanians with disabilities, seniors, their families, service providers, and legislators. It empowers Pennsylvanians with the knowledge to gain access to devices and services that make independence and autonomy possible,” says Nancy Murray, President of The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh at ACHIEVA and incoming Board President at PATF.
Funding Your Assistive Technology was made possible through a generous grant by The Donald B. and Dorothy L. Stabler Foundation of Harrisburg, PA and can be downloaded free of charge as a PDF at: http://www.patf.us/fundingyourat/.
The Department of Human Services last week released a report highlighting the department’s commitment to maintaining high-quality services to assure the health and well-being of nearly 12,000 individuals with developmental disabilities who reside in community-based homes across the commonwealth. The report includes planned and on-going initiatives to improve the quality of care people receive in their communities.
The report is the result of an on-going strategic group comprised of stakeholders, advocates, providers, an individual living in a residential home, and family members of individuals who live in residential services.
To view the Improving the Quality of Residential Services report, click here.
Governor Tom Wolf continues to expand access to community-based services for Pennsylvanians with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism. In partnership with the General Assembly, more than $381 million has been invested since 2015, allowing 7,500 more people to access services among their families and peers in their community.
The 2019-2020 state budget proposal continues this progress by investing $1.6 million in state funds for 30 new licensing staff for the Office of Developmental Programs. $15 million will also be invested to serve an additional 765 people in the Community Living Waiver and 100 people who may experience unanticipated emergencies in the Consolidated Waiver.
SOURCE: Pennsylvania Department of Human Services email
Lancaster, PA – March, 2019 – Integrated Platform Services LLC today announced a new subscription check-in and reporting service for families of seniors who live independently. The service, named Constance™, targets the families of the 87% of Americans over the age of 65 who, according to AARP, would prefer to live on their own.
Constance™ provides daily human interaction with seniors to check on mood, meals, medications, appointments, and more. The check-ins are used to generate electronic updates for family members — typically members of the “sandwich generation” who find it increasingly difficult to balance support for their aging parents with managing their own busy lives. With a focus on overall wellbeing, Constance™ addresses the most important factors impacting healthcare outcomes: early detection of medical conditions, care plan adherence, and social engagement.
The service is delivered by carefully selected and trained team who call each senior for a personalized, one-on-one conversation. Unlike other personal care services, the reports are immediately available to family members via a smartphone app on iOS and Android devices.
Families using the service have confidence that the needs of their loved one will be identified and reported, allowing them to continue living independently. Constance subscriber Suzette Mullen commented, “My sister and I look forward to getting the reports every day. The daily updates have really connected us as we navigate (my mom’s) care from a distance.” Members also look forward to interacting with the Constance Family Coordinators. A senior using the service, Patricia Roberts, recently said, “It made me feel very safe to know you were calling me this morning.”
CEO and cofounder Henry Yaeger commented, “We started Constance because we want to apply business solutions to a huge and growing societal challenge. Demographic shifts and longer distances are leaving families unprepared for the demands of supporting their loved ones as they age. Our service allows seniors to continue to live independently, while giving their families the comfort of knowing they are always being looked after.”
– news release
Constance is a service of Integrated Platform Services LLC, a company based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Constance helps seniors maintain independence by facilitating communication between seniors, their family members, and others. The high-touch service is supported by a cloud-based, HIPAA-compliant platform that enables the Constance team to efficiently provide services, while native mobile apps keep family members informed. Constance is a Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources partner entity.
“Do People With Disabilities Earn Equal Pay? | America Counts: Stories Behind the Numbers” – US Census Bureau
Overall, workers with a disability earn less than workers who do not have a disability. Yet, depending on the types of work they do, much of the difference in median earnings disappear.
Today, a record 9 million people with a disability work. While these workers, age 16 and older, are spread throughout the labor force, workers with a disability tend to concentrate in certain jobs depending on their age and particular disability.
Among people working similar jobs and schedules, the median earnings for workers with a disability are either very close to, or not different from, earnings for workers with no disability.
The most common occupation for people with a disability is janitors and building cleaners, where about 300,000 workers with disabilities find employment. They make up 11 percent of workers in this occupation.
Other large occupations for workers with disabilities are:
- Drivers/sales workers/truck drivers.
- Retail salespersons.
- Laborers and freight, stock and material movers.
“Students with disabilities call college admissions aheating ‘Big slap in the face’” – California HealthLine
by Barbara Feder Ostrov and Ana B. Ibarra
“For Savannah Treviño-Casias, this week’s news about the college admissions cheating scandal was galling, considering how much red tape the Arizona State University senior went through to get disability accommodations when she took the SAT.
“‘It felt like such a big slap in the face,’ said Treviño-Casias, 23, who was diagnosed in sixth grade with dyscalculia, a disability that makes it more difficult to learn and do math. ‘I was pretty disgusted. It just makes it harder for people who actually have a diagnosed learning disability to be believed.’
“Federal prosecutors have charged 50 people, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, in a nationwide bribery and fraud scheme to admit underperforming students to elite colleges. Some of the parents charged, the FBI said, paid to have their children diagnosed with bogus learning disabilities so they could get special accommodations on the SAT and ACT college entrance exams.”
Click here to continue reading this article at California Healthline.
Photo via Unsplash
by Jenny Wise
Having a disability shouldn’t prevent you from going after your career goals. While your job search will likely look very similar to that of someone without disabilities, you may face a few unique challenges along the way. Here are some tips to help you hit the ground running with your job hunt and land a position where you can let your skills shine.
Focus on What You Do Best
Anyone looking for a job should focus on their strengths above all else. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind the kinds of things you need in an ideal work environment and narrow your search to jobs where your disability will not limit you in any way. But it’s also crucial to think about the things you can do best! Avoid fixating on your limitations. Make a list of your greatest strengths to help you decide on a career field where you will thrive.
When you eventually go for an interview, use these strengths as your jumping off point. Talk about all of the things you can do well. Consider coming up with a short, but powerful, elevator pitch that reflects the unique ways you can benefit the company. Think about what drives you, why you are motivated to try your best every day, what aspects of the job you’re passionate about, and why you would be the perfect fit for the job. This really shows hiring managers that you’re driven to succeed.
Hiring managers love to see that a potential employee is confident in their abilities. You can display this confidence by addressing your disability in your interview and demonstrating how it does not affect your ability to do great things. If you feel uncomfortable disclosing your disability, that’s okay too! You don’t have to tell your interviewer anything you don’t want to. However, many people feel their confidence soar when they use their disability to show how they’ve overcome challenges or dealt with judgment in a constructive way.
Asking questions is another great way to show interviewers that you’re extremely driven. Do your research on the company and come prepared with a few questions about the organization. This really shows that you know what you’re talking about. You can also ask questions about development opportunities, professional responsibilities, and what success in the position would look like.
Craft a Skills-Based Resume
If you haven’t been employed for a while or you’ve switched jobs a lot in the past, a skills-based resume is your best bet. Instead of listing work history and education in chronological order, a skills-focused resume displays the targeted skills that make you uniquely qualified for the job. Adjust your resume for each job you apply for, listing a different combination of skills tailored to each position. Check out this article from Career Sidekick for help tailoring your resume to a specific job.
On your resume and in your interview, try to show your skills rather than simply telling about them. Avoid using clichés such as “hard-working” or “strong attention to detail.” Instead, use facts, numbers, and results to display your accomplishments.
Know Your Rights
As you go through the job-hunting process, make sure you have a solid understanding of your rights as a person with a disability. There are several federal laws that protect you from discrimination both during the job application process and in the workplace. For example, employers cannot reject you just because you cannot perform tasks that are not essential to the job position. Your employer must also make reasonable accommodations to help you do your job, like adjusting work schedules or modifying equipment. You can learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act on FindLaw.
Companies today are realizing the valuable talents and skills that people with disabilities bring to their businesses. While it may have been extremely challenging to find work in the past, the future of employment for people with disabilities looks promising. More and more companies are providing accommodations, advancement opportunities, and accessible tools for people with disabilities, allowing them to thrive in jobs they enjoy.
Art by Gary Murrel
“Each March, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), partners with Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) and National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) to create a social media campaign that highlights the many ways in which people with and without disabilities come together to form strong, diverse communities.
“The campaign seeks to raise awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all areas of community life, as well as awareness to the barriers that people with disabilities still sometimes face in connecting to the communities in which they live. DD Awareness Month covers three main areas: education, employment and community living. Throughout the month of March we will use these themes to guide our weekly content.”
Read this article in its entirety at the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities.org.
Click here to download as a .pdf file for enlarging / printing / sharing.