We asked the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) some of the common questions we’ve been hearing from individuals and families. Read through all the answers from top to bottom, or click on a topic below for each answer.
DDA Enrollment in Services During COVID
How to Ask for Services When You Don’t Know What to Ask For
DDA Staff and ZOOM
Employment Services During COVID
DDA Home Visits
Personal Care Hours for School Age Children
Overtime for Individual Providers
Training Requirements for New Individual Providers
A: There is always access to entitlement services, like Community First Choice (CFC), which includes personal care services. If someone is DDA eligible and has a functional need for personal care, they are entitled to receive CFC services based on an assessment. We do enroll people on Home and Community Based Services waivers if there is capacity and a need. However, these are not entitlement programs. We don’t have a lot of capacity right now, so there is no guarantee. We do encourage anyone who needs services to request them. Things are always changing as people enter or leave the system, or the legislature makes appropriations. So even if someone “hears” that we are not approving services, or there’s no point in applying, please contact DDA directly and let us know that you have a need.
A: Rather than naming a specific service, we often encourage individuals and families to think about what they need help with. For example: assistance with daily tasks, learning new skills, connecting with others in the community. The reason for this is to find the best supports and resources that fit the individual. Informing Families has a pre-meeting support and resources toolkit that can help you identify the kinds of support available through DDA. It also includes other non DDA resources.
For those who would like to take a look at some of the services we offer, DDA has fact sheets.
Informing Families also has descriptions of our services and waiver programs.
Because it’s a several step process to receive services from DDA, it’s helpful to know where you are in the process and what comes next. Here are two resources to help guide your way:
A: There are two answers to this, depending on the type of contact:
- For client contact, field staff can only use Zoom Telehealth to ensure HIPAA compliance. We are getting Zoom telehealth licenses out to staff and have obtained 200 licenses so far. There are also variations in internet access for state staff who live in rural areas, along with a learning curve for Zoom. As we continue to work through these barriers, telehealth by phone is always available.
- For community meetings set up by parent, self-advocate or other groups, DDA staff are able to join through any zoom account and link provided by the organizing entity. The only barrier would be limitations in their own internet access, or unfamiliarity with Zoom participation. If either of those are a problem, please work with the DDA staff ahead of time to find a solution. If there are documents DDA staff have to share, the facilitating entity can ask for PDF files of the documents from DDA in advance and email to participants ahead of the meeting. During the meeting, someone should monitor the chat box and make sure people have access to handouts.
Q: What’s happening with services that take place outside the home, like Community Engagement or Employment? Isn’t that hard to do during a pandemic?
A: Employment and Day services have continued throughout the pandemic both in-person and virtually. Employment and Day providers are encouraged to be creative and innovative in remote delivery and to adhere to all Washington State Safe Start requirements when delivering services in-person. Recently DDA published Return to Employment Services Guidelines to assist residential and employment support staff to determine a safe plan for a client to return to employment services.
Here are some examples from employment and day providers of successful service delivery during the pandemic (please note all client names have been changed):
Employment: Van is working from home during this time for her office job. The job coach helped her become less dependent on in-person coaching by downloading time management & task management apps to her iPad. One app is an automatic timecard she uses to clock in and out every day she works to keep an easy log of her hours each pay period. The other app allows her to keep a running tally of tasks she has completed over a period of time. She can look at the tally entries across a calendar and see what days she did each task, and how many times. Completing her timesheets take about half the time they used to now, and she doesn’t feel frustrated trying to remember details. Van had a hard time keeping track of these without job coach support. Her supervisors were even interested in sharing the apps with their whole team to help everyone stay organized. These are likely tools she will use in her job when she returns to the office.
Employment: Greg works for a homemade pasta producer who has remained open. As an essential worker, Greg packages frozen pasta into 1 pound boxes and five pound bags. During his shifts, his Employment Consultant would provide support with his task list, provide some physical support and conduct quality checks on the weight of the pasta. In order to continue supporting him remotely, his Employment Consultant devised a coaching system that takes advantage of the fact that he has his own phone and his own work station. Greg and his Employment Consultant FaceTime as he works to provide remote coaching support with verbal prompts and oversight, while his coworkers provide any physical assistance needed. This creative use of technology allowed the participant to keep working and receive the support he needs to continue to be successful.
Employment: Liv is a pianist, who has been performing concerts for residents of retirement communities for more than five years. With this vulnerable population sheltering in place, it seemed impossible for Liv to work and provide this uniquely beneficial form of entertainment to residents of these communities. Her Employment Consultant worked with one of her regular retirement community employers to create a plan for Liv to present her concerts outdoors. Instead of playing the grand piano inside the facility, her EC would load up her personal keyboard and transport it, along with the necessary sound equipment, to the retirement home and set it up in the courtyard. The residents position chairs beside their open windows and are able to look out on the courtyard and listen as she plays. Thanks to this creative approach, Liv feels fulfilled, and her audiences are once again able to enjoy an hour of beautiful entertainment.
Community Inclusion: Alexa enjoys crafts and usually goes to a wood carving class weekly until COVID-19 hit. She also had activities almost every day of the week which stopped due to COVID19. Her Community Inclusion staff were able to communicate with her via phone calls and zoom to come up with a list of ideas to pursue. From this list the staff were able to coordinate with someone who teaches card making classes. She agreed to send our client the supplies for each class for free and our staff will set the client up with a zoom call to be able to participate in the class via zoom.
Community Inclusion: Reid was involved in a cooking/baking club before Covid-19. Staff came up with the idea of simple recipes that could be done over Zoom. Staff sends the recipe through an email sets up the day time for the zoom to do the recipes together staff makes sure someone is at the home to assist Reid as needed. When things open up, Reid will be ready to join back up with the club and share the recipes we have done together and share the recipes with the group. Also, Reid will be able to keep the learned knowledge regarding wet and dry measurements and be able to pick right back up with the cooking/baking club.
Please see the COVID-19 Related Documents section of the DSHS County Best Practices website for more information on employment and day services during COVID-19.
A: Although assessments will continue to take place remotely (often by phone), brief (15 minute) in person visits are now being resumed after being suspended by the Governor’s Proclamation. These visits are intended to touch base and reconnect with families and clients. COVID precautions will be in place to help ensure health and safety. Click here for more information on what individuals and families should expect when in-home visits begin. And read our Informing Families article on how to make the most of a remote assessment.
A: Yes. Please talk to your Case Resource Manager to request more hours for hands-on or verbal cuing assistance of specific tasks, including bathing, dressing, hygiene, locomotion, eating, and toilet use. Personal care cannot replace educational or supervision services provided by the school district. For more information on this topic, read our Informing Families bulletin on this and other personal care issues related to COVID.
A: Overtime (OT) can be approved in certain cases, as long as your CRM can justify that your request is based on rule (and not an exception to rule), such as:
- Actively looking for a provider, but unable to find one.
- Circumstances in your household require fewer providers due to COVID exposure risks.
Read our Informing Families bulletin for more information on this and other personal care issues related to COVID.
Q: I heard that new personal care providers do not have to meet training requirements during the pandemic. Is that true?
A: A proclamation by the Governor has extended the deadline for training until December 7, 2020, but are encouraging new providers to get the training done now and not wait for the removal of this order. If you are a new provider, or hiring a new provider, please contact the client’s local DDA office to get started.