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A Guide to Personal Assistant Services (PAS) for Pennsylvania Residents

November 2, 2021

Are you a Pennsylvania resident looking to be a caregiver for someone you love? Or are you someone who is looking to hire a loved one to care for you because you are in need of help? FreedomCare is the place to be. In this guide, we will provide you with all of the necessary information you may need in order to fully understand what the Personal Assistant Services (PAS) program for Pennsylvania residents is.

What is the PAS Program?

The Personal Assistance Services (PAS) is a program designed to allow disabled or elderly people choose and hire their personal caregiver. This makes it so people who cannot take care of themselves properly can receive the care and support they need by someone they love and trust. The program is operated and funded by Medicaid.

 

This could apply to someone suffering from a severe disability, chronic disease, or old age who is in need of extra support. A personal assistant may have responsibilities such as helping the patient bathe, eat, get dressed, and other physical necessities. Other responsibilities may also include housekeeping, cooking, and grocery shopping. The exact tasks to be completed by the caregiver will depend on the individual needs of the person receiving assistance.

 

There are different eligibility requirements to fulfill in order to qualify to have a personal assistant or to be a caregiver in the PAS program. In the following portion of the guide, we will go through the checklist of things to keep in mind before applying to receive, or to become, a personal care assistant.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for PAS?

The eligibility requirements for PAS depend on age, financial situation, and the relationship between the patient and the person providing assistance. Although they are few, make sure you check all of the boxes before applying to hire a caregiver.

Eligibility to Receive Personal Care Assistance in Pennsylvania

There are a few requirements to meet if a patient is looking to receive a personal care assistant. The qualifications are:

 

●       The patient must have Medicaid

●       The patient must have proof that they require in-home care from someone

●       The patient can either represent themselves or have someone to represent them regarding the care and treatment you receive

If these requirements are met, then the patient is on the right path to receiving the personal assistant they desire. The advantage of the program is that the person requiring care can select the caregiver, and the caregiver does not require previous experience in order to be hired as a legal caregiver. In the following portion of the guide, we will take a look at the eligibility requirements to be a personal caregiver in the PAS program.

Eligibility to be a Personal Caregiver

Most people are eligible to become a personal care assistant for someone in need of it. The advantage of the program is that people in need of personalized, in-home care can select someone they love and trust with their health. You can be a personal care assistance if you are the:

●       Child of the patient

●       Relative of the patient

●       Friend of the patient

 

You cannot be a personal caregiver if you are:

 

●       The legal spouse of the patient

 

Other requirements to be a personal caregiver include:

 

●       Being at least 18 years old

●       Having a legal status to live and work in the United States

 

If you meet all of the requirements, including not being the spouse of the person in need of help, then you are ready to begin the application process. Read on to acquire all of the information you may need to apply for PAS.

How Do I Apply for PAS with FreedomCare?

Once you have gone over the eligibility requirements to make sure you are compatible with the program, you will have to go through the process of filling out and submitting an application to become a personal care assistant. Here we will go through the application process.

 

1.    Call FreedomCare

You will first need to call Freedom Care so that a representative can get authorization from the patient’s Medicaid insurance.

 

2.    Filling out forms

There are different forms you will receive and need to fill out as part of the application process. These include an assessment performed on the patient by the nurse and certain forms to be completed by the patient’s doctor. You can either email or fax the completed forms to Freedom Care.

 

3.    In-House visit

Once the first two steps are completed, a specialist from Freedom Care will be sent to your home to meet with both you and the patient to give a run through of the personal assistant tasks and responsibilities, as well as get verbal consent.

4.    Await the response

It takes around 2 weeks to receive a response on whether you are accepted into the program.

 

Once you receive your acceptance, someone from Freedom Care will enroll you in the program. This means someone will “give a username and password for our app, trigger caregiver payroll, set the caregiver schedule, and introduce the care team coordinator.”

PAS Pay Rate and Salary

The payment and benefits of personal care assistance depend on the patient’s location and insurance plan. You will receive an hourly wage, meaning that you are paid for the number of hours you work. This will also depend on the number of hours the patient has allocated to them by Medicaid.

Does a Patient Have to be on Medicaid to Qualify?

Yes, for a patient to receive a PAS they have to be on Medicaid. Medicaid is a federal program designed to provide low-income people with health and medical protection. Medicaid is state run, meaning the requirements may be different depending on which state you are a resident of. If you are a Pennsylvania resident, you can find information regarding Medicaid here.

Who Can Provide Care Under the PAS Program?

As stated earlier, anyone can provide care under the PAS program as long as they are not married to the person in need of assistance. This means friends and family members can qualify to be a personal assistant, with no previous experience required.

 

This makes the PAS program an ideal option for people who want to receive care from someone they know and trust. It can be difficult to accept help from a stranger; luckily, the PAS program provides the possibility for patients to decide in whose care they will be, and who they trust with their medical matters.

 

Having a friend or loved one take care of a patient can relieve a significant portion of stress associated with receiving care. As will be described further in the article, there are many advantages to the PAS program, including the fact that friends and loved ones (so long as they are not the spouse of the patient) can be paid to take care of the patient.

Can a Caregiver Live at the Same Address as the Patient?

Yes, a caregiver can live at the same address as the patient, so long as they are not married. In fact, it can be helpful for caregivers to live in the same home as the patient, so that they can be readily available to provide any required assistance.

What Type of Training is Needed to Work as a PAS Caregiver?

No previous experience is required in order to work as a PAS caregiver. That being said, you are required to be CPR certified and complete the 1 day of online training required by the PAS program. This is what makes the PAS program so accessible for anyone looking to become a caregiver.

What Types of Home Care Services Can PAS Caregivers Provide?

There are many different services which a caregiver can provide for someone in need of help. Of course, exactly what you will need to do will depend on the patient’s situation. Some people may require assistance for home management, others may require more physical support such as with bathing and eating.

 

Some house maintenance and responsibilities may include:

 

●       Cleaning

●       Yard maintenance

●       Laundry

●       Grocery shopping

●       Transportation

 

Health-related responsibilities may include:

 

●       Medication preparation

●       Bathing

●       Meal preparation

 

In most cases, caregivers will also serve as emotional support for the patient. Given that you will be spending a lot of time with the patient, it is important to take the time to ask them how they are doing, what they like to do in their free time, and make sure to listen to their needs. It is equally important to take time for yourself as a caregiver to avoid any caregiver burnouts. There are many resources online for caregiver support.

What are the benefits of PAS Compared to Traditional Home Care?

The benefits of PAS is that the person who is in need of help can select someone they love and trust to take care of them. Not only this, but the person will be paid for their caregiving work, making it the perfect win-win situation.

 

When aides are selected randomly, they may not offer the best, personalized care. The patient may also be less cooperative to receive care and support if they do not have a previously established relationship with the person. This is why patients love PAS, because it gives them autonomy of choice for their health.

 

As a caregiver, working with a disabled or elderly person can at times be strenuous and tiring work. The advantage for a caregiver to work with the PAS program is that you may feel more inclined to communicate with your patient, as well as feel better suited to deal with the emotional struggles the person may be dealing with if you have a previously established relationship with them.

Is Any Part of Pennsylvania Not Included in the PAS program?

The only part of Pennsylvania which is included in the FreedomCare PAS program is Philadelphia, which includes Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware. If the person requesting care resides in one of these areas and meets the eligibility requirements, they can go ahead and fill out the application for a personal assistant.

Does a Caregiver Need to Work a Minimum Amount of Hours Per Week?

There is no minimum amount of hours of work per week for a caregiver. That being said, there are certain benefits which require a certain amount of hours, or depend on the amount of time you work. You will be paid the hours which you work.

Can a Caregiver Take Care of More Than One Patient at a Time?

Yes, a caregiver can take care of more than one patient at a time, granted that their hours are properly recorded. You also need to make sure of the number of hours qualified for care each of the patient’s have, depending on what Medicaid gives them.

 

It is important to remember to not bite off more than you can chew with caregiving. In many cases, caregiving for two patients at a time is not a problem: this is especially the case if you have two patients who qualify for only part-time personal assistant services, so you can fill your hours working full-time by seeing several patients at once.

 

That being said, caregiving is rewarding, yet tiring work, so knowing your limits is key to performing the best caregiving work possible. Before taking on several caregiving jobs, make sure you take the time to establish a healthy and sustainable work schedule, so you don’t find yourself overwhelmed with work, which can lead to a caregiver burnout.

Can a Person with Special Needs Qualify for the Program?

Yes, absolutely! As long as medical assessments can be done to certify the patient’s need for additional support to live independently, a patient with special needs can qualify for the program. People with special needs are people who require adaptive or additional support in order to be fully independent. There are different cases in which people may require additional help: these may include patients with alzheimers, down syndrome, blindness, deafness, or cerebral palsy.

Caregiver Support Resources

Although it may often be overlooked, being a caregiver can be an emotionally difficult task and it is important to identify how to best perform self-care in order to avoid what is known as a “caregiver burnout.” In this portion of the guide, we will go through different practices to engage in and certain tips to keep in mind in order to best take care of yourself, so you may be the best caregiver possible.

How to Identify a Caregiver Burnout

Although the symptoms are diverse and depend on the person experiencing them, there are several indicators which may be signs of a developing caregiver burnout which should always be looked out for. These include:

 

●       Extreme fatigue

●       Irritability

●       Anxiety

●       Isolation

●       Depression

●       Lack of appetite

 

As a caregiver, you may find yourself taking on emotional along with physical tasks for your patients which can be draining at times. What is most important is to remember that burnouts are common and normal. There are many online and in-person resources available to help deal with a burnout.

Getting Help When You Need It

Asking and searching for help when you are in a position of emotional distress due to your work is an essential skill to have as a caregiver. The kind of help you should get depends on your personal situation. That being said, there are different options available to help you best overcome and work through your caregiver burnout. These include:

 

●       Practicing self-care

●       Joining a caregiver support group

●       Creating a support network

●       Seeking out professional help

●       Taking time off

 

Again, the exact kind of help you should seek depends on your personal needs. Having a mix of different support options available, even before the burnout occurs, is a great way to best prepare yourself for the job. Accepting help is a difficult skill to learn but is crucial when you begin your caregiving journey. Learning to ask for, and accept, help will make your career in the long-run easier and healthier.

Practicing Self-Care

Self-care is an essential part of the caregiving process. Given that your task is to help someone with their day-to-day lives, you may sometimes experience distress from the labor that caregiving represents. Taking time to take care of yourself will not only help you avoid a burn out, but it will also help you be the best caregiver that you can.

 

Self-care can take a variety of forms. There is no cookie cutter version which fits for every caregiver. Although we are all different and require different means of support, there are several common ways to perform self-care which are useful to keep in mind. These include:

 

●       Having friends, family, and loved ones regularly check-in on your

●       Going out for walks in nature

●       Taking a day to do your favorite hobby

●       Going out to a spa to relax

●       Physically look out for yourself, such as your diet and exercise routine

 

In the long-run, stress due to work can be detrimental to your health. While these are great ways to help alleviate the symptoms of a caregiver burnout, they are also important things to regularly do as you work as a caregiver in order to maintain your mental health and avoid a burnout. There are also plenty of online resources available online on self-care if you ever find yourself short of ideas when you are feeling stressed, exhausted, or depressed.

Creating a Support Network

Creating a support network of friends and family around you is a great way to prepare yourself to become a caregiver. As you undertake the physical and emotional tasks demanded by your work, you may find yourself in need to let off some steam, and having people around you to talk to can help take off some of the pressure from work. Setting up weekly phone calls, walks, or meet-ups at coffee shops are great ways to practice self-care.

 

Take Time Off When You Need It

Caregiving is an important job, but it is just as important to know your limits. If ever you feel overwhelmed by the work you are doing, remember that it is okay, and normal, to take a break. This is why it is a good idea, when possible, to have your patient have two caregivers signed up for their case so that you may have a replacement if ever you find yourself unable to work due to sickness, burnout, or other external conditions beyond your control.

Conclusion

Although there are several eligibility requirements to meet, becoming the caregiver for a loved one does not have to be a daunting or stressful task. In fact, it can be the best way for someone to get a full-time job caring for someone they love.

 

As you begin the process of applying to become a caregiver, it is important to check that you meet all of the eligibility requirements, as well as for the patient. Caregiving is an incredibly rewarding job which, when done well, can transform a patient’s life for the better. By taking on the responsibilities to support a person who is unable to support themselves independently, a caregiver can provide the extra help necessary for the patient to flourish and live well.

 

In this guide, we have gone through all of the necessary information any potential caregiver may need in order to become a PAS in the state of Pennsylvania. This includes what the PAS program is, what eligibility requirements must be met, who can provide care under the PAS program, what the benefits of PAS caregiving are, and how to avoid caregiver burnout. With all of the above information, you can rest assured that you are ready to begin your career as a Pennsylvania PAS caregiver.