In recent months a significant focus of Evergreen Service Provider’s blogs and other outreach efforts has been on introducing families to Colorado’s Family Caregiver option for Individuals living with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). We’ve found that even though this program has been an option for more than a decade, it is not well-known nor is information widely available.
Evergreen Service Providers has been working to change the accessibility of this information by providing Family Caregiver Resources, with the intention of helping families and IDD Individuals learn how the program works and navigate the process to qualify. Knowing the nuts and bolts of the program is vital, and we’re always happy to answer questions that arise for you as you make this important decision.
We’d also like to share a more personal look at the family caregiving option – from the inside – by introducing you to two families with very different situations who opted for this program. Partnering with these families, we all work together to provide their loved ones an environment in which they are thriving – with the special presence, love, and support that only family can give.
Deb is a middle-aged woman who had resided in two host homes but always yearned to be with her family, and they with her. It was through her own persistence and questioning her Host Home Provider – who was associated with Evergreen Service Providers – that her family learned about the Family Caregiver program. Now, and for the last year and a half, her caregivers are her own parents and an older sister, who express the feelings of joy that come with being involved in so many of her advancements.
Both she and her family agree that being “at home” affords Deb more opportunities and independence within a setting that is more customizable to her individual needs and wants. She communicates openly with family members and participates in many decisions – from what to add to the grocery list, to her activities in the community. Those include going to the mall, the local recreation center, bowling, gaming, restaurants, museums, or just for a drive with her dad. Deb has her own dog, and her favorite things include walking him in the neighborhood, play dates with a neighbor dog, or driving him to a dog park nearby. Deb is high-functioning and drives on short jaunts in the immediate area around her home, affording her a new level of independence.
Her family believes that the lifelong experience of knowing Deb and her capabilities on a deeper level helps them understand what freedoms they can safely allow while still giving her an elevated level of care and focus. Deb finds comfort in being close to her doctors, stores, and restaurants, in the traditions that come with each holiday, but especially in the trust that her family is there to help make decisions that are in her best interest. Deb shared, “My family is happy to have me here – now they don’t worry about me, and I don’t worry about them.”
Her sister tells us that Evergreen Service Providers pointed them to the Family Caregiver Program and guided them through the process until it became a reality for their family and for Deb – who says it’s the best program she’s been in. We are delighted to be part of not only honoring their bond but keeping this family together.
Don has not been in a host home. In fact, he celebrated his 18th birthday earlier this year, which is the age at which Individuals become eligible to participate in Medicaid-funded residential plans. His mom shared that she really wanted their son, who has a strong attachment to family, to remain at home. Don is autistic and, apart from family, does not engage much with people. He is more comfortable spending time with his family or watching YouTube and playing video games in his room.
Don attends a private autism school five days a week which he can attend until he is 21. Staying at home enables him to continue that education without any disruption to his life, attachments, and a routine with which he is comfortable. Don is very time oriented and maintaining his schedule is extremely important. With 18 years of experience and insight into his unique needs and gifts, his family knows how to take care of and manage him and his routine to facilitate his personal success.
Don’s family had obtained a Children’s Extensive Support (CES) Waiver for their son which provided benefits for which he qualified through Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program). At that time, they learned about the Family Caregiver program through a Colorado Community Centered Board. They started taking steps in that direction before Don’s 18th birthday, at which time his waiver converted to the Home and Community-Based Services Waiver for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (DD). This opened the door for his family to apply to be his official caregivers through the Family Caregiver program.
Their research led them to Evergreen Service Providers, one of few Program Approved Service Agencies (PASAs) that had in-depth knowledge of and experience with the Family Caregiver Program. Don’s family members participated in training that would be required of non-family Host Home Providers which included First Aid and CPR, QMAP (Qualified Medication Administration Personnel) certification for purposes of managing Don’s medication, and Therap documentation management. Evergreen Service Providers also offered very helpful training on topics such as managing behavioral situations. Once the training was complete and all requirements were met, Don’s mom officially became associated with Evergreen Service Providers as a contractor and began being paid to provide qualified care to her son. She says the training and documentation requirements are certainly more than worth it to have their beloved son at home.
She says the staff at Evergreen has been great at walking them through this process and they are grateful to have a partner in the care of their son. We are delighted to be partnering with them! She shared that she “…can’t imagine him with someone else. We’re all happy.” She recommends that every person with an IDD family member investigate this option that, for their family, has been life changing.
If you’d like to learn more about Colorado’s Family Caregiver program, check out our detailed resources, our other blogs on the topic, and contact us to discuss how this option may be a fit for your unique situation.