Peer Mentor Blog Post: Managing CDPA During The Holiday Season

This blog post was written by Athena Savides.  You can access the Peer Mentor blog post archive by clicking here.

The holidays are coming, and it is a busy time for many of us. For those like me, who use Consumer Directed Personal Assistance (CDPA) services, part of the planning is to decide how to manage our CDPA programs during that time.  One aspect of my role as a Peer Mentor is to provide guidance for Consumers who may have questions during this type of planning process.

As I spend holidays with my family, I give my Personal Assistants (PAs) time off from working with me. If the holiday is a paid holiday, according to my Fiscal Intermediary, (FI) the FI will adjust my PAs’ wages to reflect holiday pay.

My family members are my backup, so they make a commitment to help me with my personal care needs during the holidays, when my PAs do not usually work. As my parents, they currently cannot be paid to assist me, but they are already aware of my personal care needs, so I do not have to train them.

However, if at any point in the future, my parents become uncomfortable or unable to help me with personal care, I would need to have one or more PAs who are comfortable traveling with me to visit my family, during the holidays.

Such a change would affect not only the way I would have to hire PAs, but also the way I would train my PAs. If my parents could no longer provide my personal care during the holidays, I would need to specify during the interview process that certain PAs might sometimes have to travel with me, during the holidays. This might lead me to hire either additional or different PAs because I know that not everyone would feel comfortable leaving their families or other obligations to travel with me during the holidays, especially if it required staying overnight.

Additionally, I would have to train a PA who might travel with me differently than I normally do, because assisting me outside of my home would be very different for my PA and for me.  When I am away from home, I do not have my transfer lift, which I train PAs to use at my home in order to take me to the bathroom. My parents already know how to assist me when we travel together. Two people need to assist me at the same time, if I do not have my transfer lift. Therefore, I would need to make sure that any PA who would be traveling with me would be comfortable assisting me along with another person, instead of using my transfer lift.  This other person would likely be another family member, present at the visit, who would be comfortable assisting me and my PA, or an additional staff member, who my family and I would have to hire privately, because FIs do not pay more than one PA to work with the same consumer at the same time. This type of situation would raise financial concerns for me and my family, which we would have to consider carefully.

Furthermore, if I was traveling overnight with PAs, instead of with my parents, I would have to make prior arrangements with the PA who would be working the overnight shift to meet wherever I was staying.  This is very complex arrangement, which would require lots of planning. Certain PAs might also be unavailable to work during the holidays, so I would have to be prepared to work with another PA during that time instead.

As is definitely true for me personally, it can be especially complex to manage a Consumer Directed Personal Assistance program, during the holidays, even more so if there is lack of backup or “natural supports,” such as family members.  As I discussed above, some important questions to consider, depending on your plans for the holidays, may be: who will be assisting you, whether your personal care needs will be different, or whether you will be traveling. Please, feel free to contact the Peer Mentors for guidance in determining which questions might particularly important for you to answer, based on your personal needs and preferences. The more we plan ahead for possible changes to our CDPA program during the holidays, the better we can enjoy the holidays, knowing that, despite changes to our usual schedules, our personal needs can be met.

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