October 11, 2010
A few weeks ago I shared with you the relief that I felt over being able to hire, so quickly, a replacement for our second shift caregiver. Quickly is the operative word here, because I still haven’t been able to allow her to start working in that position. Why? Paperwork! We hired her for this position exactly three weeks today. She scheduled her drug testing and fingerprinting on that same day. She had to wait two weeks to get her fingerprinting appointment. The fiscal intermediary said that as long as they had the receipts for all of her testing, she could start. But, it wasn’t as simple as that. I emailed the receipt into the appropriate person, who then handed it off to another person, who then had to send it to the support coordinator who is with another agency. Fortunately, all of those people were in their offices, if they hadn’t been, this would be taking even longer. The support coordinator then had to make a revision to Lauren’s budget and send it to our DDD case manager who has to sign off on it. That hasn’t happened yet. I fully support and appreciate the security of the testing that needs to take place when hiring a stranger, but isn’t all of this waiting a little ridiculous since the new hire, C, has already been working with Lauren as a substitute, is filling a position that has already been approved, and is working for another provider who just had her do the same fingerprinting and drug testing for her position there? It just defies logic.
Maybe I wouldn’t be as stressed with this process if I wasn’t in such a tight spot time-wise. You see, I’m leaving in two days. My husband and I planned a trip a few years ago that we had dreamed about for over twenty years. Then I got sick right before we had to leave. We had to cancel the trip. It’s taken four years for us to be able to reschedule. I thought we were going to have to cancel again when I had to terminate L, but then C agreed to take the position. Usually I would not be comfortable leaving a new hire for at least two to three months. But since C is already a trained caregiver, she only needs to learn the “Lauren details”. Fortunately, I’ve been able to give her some hours under our other funding (Personal Preference). But it hasn’t been enough. If I can just get her working today and tomorrow – full shifts – I think I can go away content and comfortable. But that means I need to get approval in the next few hours.
Back to my original point, it should not take three weeks to get a new caregiver started. We’re not talking about working at WalMart here. We’re talking about providing the support that enables a person with disabilities to survive. Plus, it’s hard enough to find a caregiver without risking losing them because of these delays. Fingerprinting appointments in other areas of the state are taking over three weeks to schedule. I know of one family who has lost a hire because of the wait – there are probably more. We need to streamline and improve this process. Fingerprinting and drug testing results should be shared between agencies – maybe save the state some money? Testing centers should be held to requirements for timely processing and scheduling. And, we need to seriously explore extending the choices inherent in self-direction to include choices in how individuals manage staff. Under Personal Preference, Lauren is the employer of record for her staff – she makes the decisions about who to test, what to test, and when they start. Under Real Life Choices, the fiscal intermediary is the employer of record – they set the rules. We need to give individuals who are hiring people to handle their bodies and support them in their struggles to lead meaningful lives, to make the choices that meet their needs. I need to know that when Lauren is living in her own home, that she will be able to not only hire qualified caregivers, but can also do so in a timely manner which will ensure her safety and stability.