How Consumer Directed Services Are Useful for Disabled Men and Women Living at Home

What is Consumer Directed Services? Also known as self-directed services and participant-directed care in some states, this is a program available through Medicaid. It allows patients or their personal representatives to have direct responsibility for decision making regarding certain aspects of care. One particular advantage of this program is it allows family members to receive payment for being caregivers of the Medicaid patient.

Types of Personal Care Assistance

The services help men and women live as independently as possible even when they need some assistance at home. That assistance might mainly be for cooking meals and cleaning their homes. It can include additional housekeeping tasks. Some patients need help with bathing, grooming and dressing. They may want someone to take them shopping and to appointments.

A Brief History of Consumer Directed Services

Consumer directed services are intended to be used by individuals with physical disabilities. These kinds of programs only began in the 1990s and gradually spread to nearly all the states. People were frustrated by the increasing pressure or demand that they use health maintenance organization insurance, which greatly restricts a patient’s access to care options. Healthcare experts realized that patients could receive higher-quality services when they took charge of their own care needs and preferences.

Interest in these programs also strengthened among men and women younger than age 65. This represents nearly 40 percent of disabled people who benefit from some level of personal home care. Disability levels among the general population are rising for a variety of reasons. One important reason is that survival rates are much higher now for people who have experienced serious injuries, illnesses and other negative health events.

Payment Restrictions

The program does have restrictions on who can be paid, although this varies a great deal by state. Using Missouri for an example, a spouse cannot be paid to care for a husband or wife. The same is true for the parent of a minor child. Payment is made through an intermediary. Some states require training or testing, or both before a family member can become a paid caregiver, but this is not the case in Missouri.