How to Choose a Texas HCS Provider – Texas HCS 101

by Mary Jenkins  - April 28, 2023

How to Choose a Texas HCS Provider: The Ins and Outs of Home and Community-Based Services

If you’re a Texan with a slot in the Home and Community-Based Services program, you may be wondering how to choose the right HCS provider. There are many different providers out there, so it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. In this article, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of home and community-based services in Texas. We’ll help you understand what to look for when choosing an HCS provider, how the administrative code that governs HCS works, and some tips on how to make the best decision for your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Home and Community-Based Services (HCS) in Texas are services that help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live in their own homes or apartments instead of institutions.
  • HCS is a Medicaid waiver program funded by Medicaid, but not subject to all its rules.
  • Benefits of HCS include living in own home, help with activities of daily living, and more control over schedule.
  • Choosing the right HCS provider involves considering one’s own needs and preferences, including help needed, living arrangements, and control over schedule.

What are Home and Community-Based Services (HCS)?

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In Texas, Home and Community-Based Services (HCS) are services that help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live in their own homes or apartments instead of in institutions, such as nursing homes. These services can include help with activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, and eating; help with household tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry; and transportation services. HCS can also provide access to community resources, such as recreation and education programs.

HCS is a Medicaid waiver program, which means that it is funded by Medicaid but is not subject to some of the usual Medicaid rules. For example, in most cases, Medicaid will only pay for services that are provided in an institution, such as a nursing home. However, because HCS is a waiver program, Medicaid will pay for services that are provided in the community.

What are the benefits of HCS?

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There are many benefits to receiving HCS. Here are some of the most important ones:

You can live in your own home (instead of in an institution)

Living in your own home or apartment gives you more control over your life and allows you to maintain your independence. It also gives you more privacy and allows you to be closer to your friends and family. This helps foster a sense of independence.

Having your own place also allows you to design your space specifically for your needs. For example, if you use a wheelchair, you can make sure that there is enough room for you to maneuver comfortably and that all of the doors and hallways are wide enough for you to get through.

If you live in an institution, such as a nursing home, you may not have the same level of control over your life. For example, you may not be able to choose your own roommates or decide when you want to go to bed. You also may not have the same level of privacy.

You can get help with activities of daily living

If you have trouble with activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, and eating, HCS can provide you with the help you need. This type of assistance is called “personal care services.” Personal care attendants can come to your home and help you with these tasks. They can also help you with household tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry.

If you live in an institution, you may not have as much control over your personal care services as someone who resides alone or in a private home. This means you may have to bathe when it is convenient for the staff instead of when you want to. You also may not be able to choose your own personal care attendant.

You can have more control over your schedule

When you live in your own home, or a residential group home setting, you can have more control over your schedule. You can decide when you want to get up in the morning, when you want to take a break during the day, and when you want to go to bed at night. However, group home settings often have rules about curfews and quiet hours.

If you live in an institution, your schedule is often controlled by the staff. For example, you may have to get up when the staff says it is time to get up and go to bed when they say it is time for lights out. You also may not be able to take a break when you want to or go where you want to during the day.

Institutions also have visiting hours, which may limit when your friends and family can see you. When you live in the community, you can generally come and go as you please and have more control over your schedule.

How do I choose the right HCS provider?

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All Texas HCS providers facilitate basically the same services, as prescribed by law. So when you are looking for an HCS provider, it is important to find one that is a good fit for you. You should consider your needs and preferences when you are choosing a provider.

Some things you may want to think about include:

Your needs

Do you need help with activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, and eating? Do you need help with household tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry? Do you need transportation to doctor’s appointments or other activities?

Your preferences

Do you want to live in your own home or apartment, or do you want to live in a group home setting? If you want to live in your own home, do you need help finding a place to live? Do you want to be able to control your own schedule, or do you want someone else to control it for you?

Your location

Do you want to live in a specific area, such as near your family or friends? Do you want to live in a rural area or an urban area? Your provider’s location and resources in the area will likely limit your choices.

Other considerations when choosing an HCS provider

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Some other things to keep in mind when choosing a provider include:

The provider’s licensing status

All HCS providers must be licensed by the state of Texas. You can check a provider’s licensing status on the Texas Health and Human Services website.

The provider’s quality rating

Be sure to search for reviews of potential providers. You can also ask your family and friends if they have any recommendations. Like any other service business, HCS providers can have good and bad reviews.

The provider’s staff

When you meet with potential providers, be sure to ask about the training and experience of their staff. The people who work for your HCS provider will be helping you with some of the most personal aspects of your life, so you want to make sure they are qualified and experienced.

The provider’s services

Be sure to ask potential providers about the specific services they offer. Some providers may only offer certain types of services, or may have limited availability for certain services. For example, some providers only offer transportation during business hours, while others may only offer it on weekends.

How can I make sure an HCS provider is right for me?

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It is important to remember that you are the customer and the one in charge. You should always feel comfortable with your provider and their staff. If you ever feel like you are not being treated well, or if your needs are not being met, you should speak up. You can also file a complaint with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission if you feel like you have been mistreated by your provider.

How do I change providers if I’m not happy with my current one?

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If you are not happy with your current provider, you can always switch to a new one. You can do this by contacting your case manager or Local IDD Authority (LIDDA) and telling them that you would like to change providers. Your case manager will then help you find a new provider that is a better fit for you.

Other FAQs about the Texas HCS program

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Here are some other frequently asked questions about the Texas HCS program:

What is an Individualized Service Plan (ISP)?

An ISP is a plan that is created by you and your case manager that outlines the services you need and want. This plan is designed to help those with intellectual and developmental disabilities meet their goals and live as independently as possible.

What is a Person-Directed Plan (PDP)?

A PDP is a plan that is created by you and your case manager that outlines the services you need and want. However, unlike an ISP, a PDP gives you more control over your care and services. You will be able to choose your own service providers, as well as how and when you receive services.

Who oversees the HCS program?

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is the state agency that oversees the HCS program. HHSC works with local IDD authorities (LIDDAs) to ensure that HCS providers are meeting the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

How often will my case manager visit me?

Your case manager is required to visit you at least once every 90 days. However, you can request more frequent visits if you feel like you need them.

What are the rights of HCS consumers?

All HCS consumers have the right to:

  • Be treated with dignity and respect
  • Receive services in a safe environment
  • Receive services that meet their individual needs
  • Have their privacy respected
  • Be free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation
  • Make complaints about their provider without fear of retribution

How do I file a complaint against an HCS provider?

If you have a complaint about your HCS provider, you can contact your case manager or the HHSC Office of Consumer Rights. You can also file a complaint online or by calling the HHSC complaint hotline at (800) 458-9858.

What are some things to keep in mind when choosing an HCS provider?

When choosing a provider, it is important to keep the following things in mind:

  • The provider’s experience
  • The types of services offered
  • The provider’s availability
  • How comfortable you feel with the provider
  • How well the provider meets your needs

When can I start receiving services from an HCS provider?

You can begin receiving services from an HCS provider as soon as your Individualized Service Plan (ISP) is approved. However, it may take a few weeks for your ISP to be approved and for you to be matched with a provider. Once you are matched with a provider, they will contact you to set up an initial meeting.

What are the different types of HCS services?

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HCS provides many services to individuals with IDD; however, there are four main types of HCS services:

Residential services: Services that help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities live in their own homes or in the homes of their families.

Community living support services: Services that helps individuals with IDD live and participate in their communities.

In-home support services: Services that helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities stay in their own homes and avoid placement in a nursing facility.

Day habilitation services: Services that help individuals with IDD participate in activities and develop skills during the day. These services can be provided in a group setting or individually.

How long is the wait list for HCS services?

Unfortunately, the wait list for HCS services is long, which is why parent and guardians are encouraged to sign up their loved ones as soon as possible. It can take years for an individual to receive services through HCS, so it is important to have a backup plan in place.

What are the steps for applying for HCS services?

The first step is to contact your Local IDD Authority (LIDDA) and request an assessment. Once the assessment is complete, you will be placed on the HCS waitlist. You will then be contacted by a case manager who will help you develop an Individualized Service Plan (ISP). After your ISP is approved, you will be able to choose a provider and can begin receiving services.

Closing thoughts on choosing an HCS provider

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The HCS program is a great resource for individuals with IDD; however, it can be difficult to navigate. Hopefully this article has provided some clarity on the process of choosing an HCS provider. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us. Thank you for reading!

About Above and Beyond Caring

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Founded in 2007, Above and Beyond Caring is a Texas-based HCS and day habilitation provider that provides services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Brazoria and Galveston County areas of Texas. We are dedicated to providing high-quality, individualized care to our clients and their families. Our team of skilled professionals provide a wide range of services, including residential services, community living support services, in-home support services, and day habilitation services. We are passionate about helping our clients reach their full potential and enjoy a life of inclusion and community involvement. Contact us today at (979) 202-0055 to learn more about our program!

About Mary Jenkins

Mary Jenkins has over 25 years experience helping individuals with IDD live and thrive in their community. She founded Above and Beyond Caring in 2007 to provide Texas HCS services in the Texas Gulf Coast area. She is also the Director of the Community Inclusion Project, a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all individuals have access to their community. She is passionate about her work and believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to be a part of, and contribute to, the world around them. Mary is a tireless advocate who is passionate about helping individuals with IDD live fuller, more meaningful lives.

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Host Home/Companion Care “Difficulty of Care” Income Tax Exemption
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