Massachusetts PCA Directory Signs Up 5,000 Workers Since September Launch

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New State Website, Launched in September, Connects People with Disabilities/Elders with Personal Care Assistants; Promotes Independence and Creates Jobs. The new online directory, a free tool for the more than 18,000 people with disabilities and elders who qualify for the MassHealth PCA program, makes it easier to recruit and hire personal care assistants. Individuals can search the website for qualified PCAs by zip code and other criteria, such as access to a car, hours of availability and work experience. Current and potential PCAs can apply for jobs at no charge.

The new Massachusetts PCA (Personal Care Assistant) Directory has registered more than 5,000 workers. The directory launched its website at http://www.mass.gov/findpca in September.

The new online directory makes it easier for PCA consumers to recruit and hire personal care assistants. Individuals can search the website for qualified PCAs by zip code and other criteria, such as access to a car, hours of availability and work experience. Current and potential PCAs can apply for jobs at no charge.

The directory is a free tool for the more than 18,000 people with disabilities and elders who qualify for the MassHealth PCA program, which provides funding for them to hire qualified individuals to assist them at home with daily activities, including bathing, dressing, meal preparation and other tasks they are not able to do for themselves.

Demand for personal care assistants has grown significantly in Massachusetts and nationwide, as more people with disabilities and elders choose to live at home, rather than in nursing homes or institutions. The need for at-home services is expected to grow over the next 20 years, as the Baby Boomer generation ages and life expectancy increases.

Dr. Jean McGuire, Chair of the PCA Workforce Council which sponsors the website, said, “This online PCA Referral Directory is an important step forward in the Patrick Administration’s ‘Community First’ initiative, which is designed to maximize the extent to which people with disabilities and elders are able to live successfully in their homes and communities. This new resource will make it easier for consumers to hire qualified personal care assistants to support them in living more independent lives and will help create jobs in the human services industry.”

Liz Casey of Roslindale, a member of the PCA Workforce Council, has been employing PCAs since 1990. She added, “With help from PCAs, I lead a tremendously satisfying life. I have been able to stay in my own home, where I am surrounded by friends and neighbors I've known for years. I have been able to manage my life so that I could raise my daughter, which has been one of my greatest joys.”

Joe Tringali of Amherst, who incurred a spinal cord injury as a teenager and has been quadriplegic since 1968, was one of the first Massachusetts residents to use MassHealth’s Personal Care Assistance Program, which began in 1974. A member of the PCA Workforce Council, who played an active role in the development of the online directory, Mr. Tringali said, “Without a PCA, I could not have got ready for my wedding, attend my daughter’s graduation, travel, or go out with friends. None of this could be possible without the PCA program, which has also made it possible for me to go to work everyday for the past 20 years.”

Rosanna Woodmansee with the New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Woburn, MA, says that the PCA Referral Directory is helping her patients. “I want to commend you on the work that you have done in putting together the new http://www.mass.gov/findpca program. I used it with one patient recently who would have gone to a Skilled Nursing Facility but who was discharged home instead, all because we were able to screen and interview five immediately available PCAs through the website.”

People with disabilities and elders who do not have access to a computer are encouraged to contact their local Personal Care Management agency or call toll-free to Rewarding Work Resources Inc., a Brookline-based non profit organization, at (866) 212-9675. The PCA Workforce Council contracted with Rewarding Work to develop and operate the directory.

Those needing support at home, but who do not participate in the MassHealth PCA program, may use the directory for a small fee. Individuals looking for work as PCAs may register online or may call the Applicant Call Center toll-free at (866) 211-WORK. There is no charge for workers to register.

Consumers, providers and advocates who are interested in learning more about the PCA Workforce Council or the online Referral Directory are encouraged to contact Jack Boesen at (617) 210-5083.

About the PCA Quality Home Care Workforce Council
The Personal Care Attendant Quality Home Care Workforce Council is an innovative governmental body that uses consumer engagement to strengthen the Personal Care Attendant program. The Council is charged with ensuring the quality of long-term, in-home, personal care by recruiting, training and stabilizing the work force of personal care attendants. To learn more about the Council, please visit: http://www.mass.gov/pca.

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Elenore Parker

Jack Boesen, Director
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