In response to growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19 and its potential impact on the delivery of services to individuals with an intellectual disability or autism, the Department of Human Services (DHS), Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) has developed the following operational guidance and recommendations for providers of intellectual disability and autism services.
Information will continue to be shared and disseminated going forward to address questions and concerns that have been brought to our attention. We continue to monitor information from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidance developed by DHS will be centrally located on this page, which will be updated as additional guidance becomes available. We encourage you to continue to consult these resources for updates on COVID-19, information on staying healthy, and updates on the situation in Pennsylvania.
Additionally, ODP is collaborating with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to make emergency amendments to its Home and Community-Based Waivers in response to a COVID-19 outbreak. The amendments under consideration provide for flexibility that may be necessary to continue ensuring the health and safety of ODP waiver participants. The types of modifications and flexibility ODP is seeking include but are not limited to the following areas: suspension of the Community Participation Supports requirements for time in community settings; staffing requirements; service location size limitations; remote/telephone for supports coordination; and where certain services can be provided. Additional information about the amendments will be provided in subsequent releases of this document.
Supports Coordination Organizations (SCOs)
ODP is providing the following guidance to SCOs regarding Supports Coordination Monitoring and Individual Support Plan (ISP) Team Meetings (i.e. annual reviews, critical revisions, six-month reviews, and ad hoc planning meetings).
Effective immediately and until further notice, ODP is permitting SCOs to choose to conduct Supports Coordination Monitoring and ISP Meetings remotely; using phone or video conferencing solutions. When either of these responsibilities are completed in place of a required face to face meeting, the Supports Coordinator should document the occurrence in a corresponding service note.
Community Participation Support/Day Habilitation Providers – Time in Community
ODP is providing the following guidance for all Community Participation Supports providers regarding requirements for time in the community during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Until further notice, the requirement that providers support each individual at least 25% of time in community settings is suspended. Providers do not need to meet the twenty-five percent (25%) of time in the community requirement during the emergency and should evaluate potential risk and exposure by individual and community activity (i.e. walks in the park or neighborhood likely to be low risk for exposure). For ID/A waivers, ISP Teams do not need to complete variances when individuals will not spend 25% of their time in the community on average per month during this time.
Providers should ensure staff adherence to already implemented industrial hygiene procedures and implement additional infection control measures as recommended by PA Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control for all workstations, sensory areas (including materials and devices), durable medical equipment, etc.
Where this change will require revisions to service authorizations for individuals to account for additional time in facility settings, providers should contact the applicable SCOs.
Residential and Community Participation Support Providers – Limiting Visitors
ODP is providing the following guidance for residential providers (i.e. Residential Habilitation and Life Sharing) regarding actions that can be taken to limit visitors during the COVID-19 outbreak. Until further notice, residential providers should refer to the Long Term Care Facility (LTCF) Visitation Guidance found at this MyODP location.
How should Community Participation Support/Day Habilitation facilities monitor or limit visitors?
Facilities should screen visitors for the following:
- International travel within the last 14 days to restricted countries. For updated information on restricted countries, visit this web page.
- Signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as a fever, cough, and sore throat.
- Has had contact with someone with or under investigation for COVID-19.
If visitors meet any of the above criteria, facilities may restrict their entry to the facility.
How should Community Participation Support/Day Habilitation facilities monitor or restrict facility staff?
The same screening performed for visitors should be performed for facility staff (numbers 1, 2, and 3 above).
- Staff who have signs and symptoms of a respiratory infection should not report to work.
- Any staff that develop signs and symptoms of a respiratory infection while on the job should:
- Immediately stop work, put on a facemask and self-isolate at home;
- Inform the appropriate supervisor, and include information on individuals, equipment, and locations the person came in contact with; and
- Contact and follow the local health department recommendations for next steps (e.g., testing, locations for treatment).
Recommendations for Providers:
- Recommendation #1: Exercise and promote hygienic practices.
- Recommendation #2: Review your agency back-up plan and infection control procedures.
- Recommendation #3: Report all suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 to ODP
- Recommendation #4: Contact ODP before making any changes to your business practice whenever possible.
- Recommendation #5: Document what actions were taken and maintain evidence for why actions were taken.
- Recommendation #6: Stay Informed
Please read ODP’s announcement for further information; this Alert provides the highlights.
NOTE: ODP is offering a webinar tomorrow – Friday, March 13 – entitled ODP Update: Coronavirus (COVID-19), 2:30 pm and 3:00 pm.
Please join Deputy Secretary Kristin Ahrens and Medical Director Dr. Gregory Cherpes as they present information related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The 30-minute webinar will provide all stakeholders with important information on strategies related to prevention and mitigation.
Please be considerate of space and attend either the 2:30 pm or 3:00 pm session.
The webinar will be posted on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates page on MyODP within 3 hours. You may register for the webinar using this link.