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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Because the developmental disabilities community is vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19) and depends on the support of family and direct support professionals (DSPs), the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) will continue to provide updates about the latest information and respond to commonly asked questions. 

Stay-at-Home Order

Added March 30, 2020*

Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, issued a stay-at-home order March 22. The director’s order includes the entire state, stating unless you are doing an essential activity, you should stay home. This order is mandatory to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in Ohio and protect people’s friends, neighbors, and vulnerable populations.

Following the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) stay-at-home order, families and guardians may use technology or phone calls in place of any required face-to-face interactions or in-person meetings and can authorize services via phone call or email before formal individual service plan (ISP) revisions can be completed.

How do we keep loved ones from feeling isolated during this time? 

Added March 30, 2020*

Families should follow the ODH-mandated stay-at-home order. To communicate with loved ones, families can use other options of contact through technology, phone calls, social media, or writing letters or cards. 

Can family members take people home from licensed residential homes for a visit or until this situation passes?

Added March 30, 2020*

Yes, however, the department highly discourages this, as the order is asking people to shelter in place. The residential provider may restrict a person from returning if the person poses a risk to other household members or due to COVID-19 exposure or symptoms.

Therefore, families must be ready and able to provide support for an extended time, including a backup plan if the family members become sick. A discussion and planning session with the person’s residential provider is strongly encouraged. Also, please review the COVID-19 guidance documents provided by (ODH).

Can licensed residential providers refuse to take people back into the residential setting?

Added March 30, 2020*

A provider can refuse to allow the person to return to the home if the family or guardian takes the person out of the home for anything other then an essential health and safety need or end-of-life situation. If a person leaves for the weekend or just goes home, the provider has the option upon return to place the person on a 14-day quarantine in their room or can refuse the client to return to the home until ODH communicates the risk for COVID-19 is no longer there. The person must be able to return to the facility after clearance from the local department of health or a medical professional. The provider can not discharge the person without proper notifications but can temporarily use that bed to assist with the COVID-19 crisis.

Where can I find the most up-to-date and accurate information? 

Information and helpful resources are being shared on a central DODD web page  for people with disabilities, their families, service providers, direct support professionals, county boards of developmental disabilities, and the community at large. 

For specific questions about COVID-19 and additional information and resources, DODD urges you to use the Ohio Department of Health’s call center. Call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634), or visit coronavirus.ohio.gov

What does “social distancing” mean for families? 

Following the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) orders and recommendations for social distancing, families and guardians may use technology or phone calls in place of any required face-to-face interactions or in-person meetings and can authorize services via phone call or email before formal individual service plan (ISP) revisions can be completed. 

How do we keep our loved ones from feeling isolated during this time? 

Families should also follow the ODH recommendations and limit their in-person interactions with their loved ones who are not residing with them. To communicate with loved ones, families can use other options of contact through technology, phone calls, social media, or writing letters or cards. While it is very important to practice social distancing, it is also important that families virtually stay in touch with one another to prevent further feelings of isolation. 

Will DODD relax the rules for of new direct support professionals (DSP)? 

To support the increased need for supports in people’s home, new employee onboarding requirements have been relaxed for agency providers in order to expedite the hiring process and allow new hires to begin service delivery more quickly during this state of emergency. 

An agency provider who chooses to utilize non-traditional staff in direct support positions must still initiate appropriate background checks, driver’s abstract (if driving), and the required registry checks, but may place the staff person on the schedule immediately to get support to people more quickly. 

What if my loved one requires more care from their independent provider? 

During this state of emergency, independent providers can exceed the 60-hour ceiling for providing services, if necessary, to maintain the health and safety of the people receiving their support. Independent providers will still require authorization from the service and support administrator (SSA), but do not need to wait for the ISP to be updated or signatures to be gathered. Verbal or electronic authorization will suffice. 

How does my loved one still receive services if services at adult day support facilities are interrupted? 

Families are encouraged to work with their SSA and all providers to explore alternative ways to receive services, such as the use of Remote Support or allowing people to receive services in the homes of DSPs. People receiving services, families, guardians, and teams must be consulted and approve these alternatives before they can be implemented. 

What if my family is hesitant to let DSPs in our home, or our loved one’s home, during the state of emergency?

Supports should be explored using Remote Support or Assistive Technology to deliver the services that are needed. Needed help with grocery shopping, picking up medications, and other types of assistance can be given and billed for on behalf of that person by a provider. People with disabilities, their families, guardians, providers, and SSAs should work together to explore technology or on behalf of services when at all possible.

Who is available to help our family navigate these changes? 

You can reach out to your SSA or your local county board to learn about what assistance may be available to your family through local connections or providers. If more assistance is needed, the DODD statewide support teams map includes the department’s established support teams across five regions in Ohio and their contact information for local teams to provide technical assistance. 

Why does it feel like everything has changed? 

In this critical time, everyone will be required to work collaboratively, operate differently, and be proactive to limit the spread of COVID-19. During this state of emergency, DODD fully realizes there are on-the-ground issues that require flexibility from normal operations and additional assistance from the department.

DODD understands the difficult situation people with disabilities, their families, providers, and county boards are in, and it is the department’s priority to support everyone’s needs in order to ensure the health and safety of Ohioans with developmental disabilities and their families.