Community Living Fast Becoming a Reality for Medicaid Subscribers


This past January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a press release detailing important news for seniors and people with disabilities. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule that guarantees that people utilizing Medicaid’s home and community-based service programs are given full access to community living, and are offered services in integrated settings.

For years, seniors and people with disabilities and the people who work with them have been advocating for a more integrated community living experience. This work culminated in the HHS Community Living Initiative, launched in 2009, whose goal was to encourage greater opportunities for Americans with disabilities, and older Americans, to live their lives in a community setting.

This final rule will help to usher in greater access to home and community-based settings for the affected individuals, and offer alternatives to institutional care.

Naturally, this transition will require a greater number of well-trained direct support professionals. As states begin to adapt their programs to meet the new requirements, undoubtedly the issue of home and community-based staffing becomes an essential component to these new standards.

The DirectCourse/College of Direct Support (CDS) curriculum is already being recognized at the gold standard for training the dedicated individuals who support seniors and people with disabilities. The curriculum, designed by the University of Minnesota’s Research and Training Center on Community Living, is geared toward educating DSPs to provide the necessary support to helping people live quality lives in a community setting.

The CDS curriculum is a wonderful training tool both for DSPs as well as seniors, people with disabilities, and family members and friends. Courses include Hiring Great Direct Support Professionals, Working with Families and Support Professionals, as well as basic courses on Safety, Emergency Preparedness, and Medication Support, among many others.

To quote HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, when commenting on the final rule, “People with disabilities and older adults have a right to live, work, and participate in the greater community. HHS, through its Community Living Initiative, has been expanding and improving the community services necessary to make this a reality.”

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