When signing up for the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP), it is important to make sure to do it in a manner that is safe and benefits the patient.

When dealing with older parents there is often a lot of give and take between the children and the parents regarding major decisions about the parent’s care. However when signing up for CDPAP, it is important that there be a clear distinction between consumer and caregiver. At least on paper, if you choose to be a caregiver for your mother, your mother just became your boss.


If you feel your parent cannot represent themselves and clearly direct the program, then you can step in and run things. However by doing so, you automatically disqualify yourself as a personal assistant.

Whoever is directing things must realize that they are about to become someone’s employer, and as Spiderman’s Uncle said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

With this in mind let’s explore what you should look for in a CDPAP personal assistant and what details of the program might affect whom you choose.

Analyze the need:

When looking for a caregiver for yourself or your loved one, start by looking at the patient’s needs. There are a wide range of people participating in the CDPAP program. Some people only have trouble getting out of the house. They need someone to take them shopping and to doctor appointments. Others can’t cook, clean or do laundry, and need someone to keep house for them. Yet others need significant help in areas like bathing or basic movements.

Once you analyze the tasks to be done in a clear manner, an image of the kind of person you are looking for will naturally shape itself. Is the person you are hiring physically capable of doing what needs done? Can they get you to and from appointments? Do they need to? Is bathing a task? Are you comfortable around them?

Making a list of tasks the aid will need to do is a great way to start the process.

elderly lady

Understand your role in CDPAP:

In addition to setting the tasks and responsibilities of the personal assistant, the patient participating in CDPAP also agrees to provide any necessary training. This can be as simple as showing the personal assistant your favorite recipe for an omelette, and as serious as what to do in case of emergency.

The more clearly you can communicate with your personal assistant and the more comfortable you feel doing so, the better the relationship will be. Don’t pick your grandson who has no interest in caring for you and just wants the check. First of all, pretending someone is doing the work when they aren’t is fraud, and big brother is indeed watching. Secondly, if you need the care, then you need the care! Pick someone who will do the job. Just as importantly, pick someone with whom you can communicate with clearly.

Understand the rules:

Being a personal assistant under CDPAP is a job. During the signup process a medical assessment is done to evaluate the patient’s needs. Based on this assessment the patient is authorized to have an personal assistant for a certain number of hours per week.

Although the number of hours the personal assistant can work is not in your hands, the patient has tremendous leeway in setting when those hours are worked. You can set them up bulked in the weekend or even with split shifts at different times on the same day. It’s all based on what you need.

Yet, even with all that leeway, it is still a job. You can set the schedule, but once it is set, the personal assistant is expected to work those hours. That is not to say that a schedule cannot be adjusted as circumstances change. You can change the schedule literally the day before the personal assistant is supposed to work, so long as you inform the agency. But the schedule, is still the schedule.

Meaning that if the personal assistant is set to work from 9 – 3 on Monday and they work  4 – 10 instead, then they will not get paid. If they show up late, they will lose pay etc. etc. CDPAP is a job, just like any other job with hourly shifts.

Before choosing a personal assistant make sure they understand the rules and are willing to play by them.


Consider the hours:

Sometimes people have a need for significant, or even 24 hour care. In such situations it is important to recognize that you have the right to hire as many personal assistants as you would like. You can have two children splitting the week and a friend working the weekends. You are the boss.

In fact, it is a worthwhile practice for everyone to have a backup personal assistant. After all, what happens if the personal assistant is sick?

There is no way to have an agency supply a personal assistant in the morning and have a CDPAP personal assistant work the evenings. You can either choose to have the agency run things and not join CDPAP or you can choose to run things, soup to nuts. Meaning if you choose CDPAP and a personal assistant doesn’t show up, it is your responsibility to find a replacement, not the agency’s.

Once a personal assistant is registered with the agency they can lay dormant and never work any hours until needed. But it is important to get the backup on payroll beforehand, so that if they do have to work, they can be paid.

Keep in mind, that if circumstance change, or your personal assistants don’t work out you can always opt into traditional homecare. Nothing is tying you to CDPAP for any set period of time. In the same way nothing requires you to stay with traditional homecare.

How to find a personal assistant

The place to start looking is always with family and friends. That extra bit of caring makes a tremendous difference and you always want someone who will go the extra mile.

Many people who choose CDPAP, as opposed to a Home Health Aide through an agency, are averse to strangers in their home, so this is the most logical place to start anyway.

There are also an abundance of sites online with caregivers looking for work. A simple Google search will come up with a number or results. If you like your current personal assistant but don’t like the agency, you can even hire your current personal assistant and cut out the agency. In CDPAP you can hire anyone you would like.

Through CDPAP you can choose someone with whom you can easily communicate and trust. You can maintain your independence. Children can make sure their parents get the care they need, and really feel comfortable knowing their care is in the hands of someone they have confidence in. Take control of your or your parent’s care, and do it right!