What is self-direction?
Self-directed services are Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) that help people – of all ages with different disabilities – live independent lives in their own homes and communities. They maintain their independence by choosing the mix of services and supports that work best for them. Self-direction empowers each program participant to expand their degree of choice and control over decisions made about their long-term services and support in a highly personalized manner.
How is Arkansas involved?
Self-direction provided in Arkansas is through a state plan service under 1915(j) of the Social Security Act and also through a 1915(c) waiver known as ARChoices, which is administered by the Division of Aging, Adult and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS) with support from the Division of Provider Services and Quality Assurance (DPSQA). The state plan, Independent Choices, is operated by the DPSQA with support from the DAABHS. As the program administrators, DPSQA works directly with Palco regarding participant enrollment, funding, policy guidelines, and eligibility. However, other entities contribute to participant enrollment in the program.
Arkansas’s commitment to HCBS received a boost thanks to additional funding. This means Palco can issue an incentive payment to caregivers through its partnership with the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). No action is needed from the employer or caregivers to receive this funding. Self-directing Participants/Employers can now offer a hiring bonus of $1,000 to any caregivers being hired on or after 4/1/2022. Once a caregiver has completed the enrollment process and completed 30 days of employment, they will become eligible. Palco will process and pay these automatically within 90 days of their hire date. Additional incentives in the form of retention bonus payouts will also be issued in 2023!
Quality of care for self-directing participants and staffing go hand in hand. Self-directing service participants in Arkansas are eager to hire and train individuals interested in caregiving as a career. As the need for caregivers continues to grow, this professional development will improve outcomes for participants and caregiver job satisfaction. Finding and retaining employees is typically at the top of the list when it comes to challenges faced by individuals enrolling in a self-directed service delivery model. The recent funding provided and similar initiatives help address this fundamental challenge by expanding the caregiver applicant pool. Caregivers work hard – a monetary thank you can aid in an employee’s longevity and continued desire to turn this critical support into a long-term career. Palco will continue to provide support and innovative solutions to expand self-direction in the state of Arkansas. We are committed to improving the caregiver workforce shortage this state is facing and being a positive catalyst for change in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Human Services and other valued stakeholders.