Dear ISS Stakeholders,

As these remain challenging times for all us, we would like to update you on some of the new legislation/guidelines that have come from New York State that specifically impacts the delivery of Self-Direction services. We would also like to give you some reminders in regards to certain items.

Community Habilitation/ Respite During School Hours
· OPWDD announced the authorization of community habilitation and respite services to be provided and billed for during normal school hours. Community Habilitation must have already been authorized and cannot exceed those authorized for the person. This means if you only have 20 hours a week allotted for community habilitation you must stay within those 20 hours if you chose to have community habilitation during school hours.

Hospital Visitation
· The New York State Department of Health has updated their hospital visitation/admission guidelines to allow a caregiver to accompany individuals with I/DD. Hospitals are required to permit a patient support person at the patient’s bedside for: Patients for whom a support person has been determined to be essential to the care of the patient including patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Personal Protective Equipment
· The Governor issued Executive Order 202.16 requiring essential businesses to provide face coverings when in direct contact with individuals while fulfilling their job responsibilities. This order goes into effect today and we are working with a distributor to provide PPE to participants that need it for their staff. Further information about requesting PPEs and obtaining them will be announced later in the week. We are confident that the circle of support has already taken this into consideration as self-direction is all about becoming self-reliant and ISS will support your efforts as best that we can.

OPWDD Background Checks
· The State has released guidance on background checks. Some of the background check restrictions have been lifted during this time. ISS is continuing to process conditional hires and new hires. Conditional hires will be processed following the new guidelines for background checks. Remember to submit conditional hires and new hire forms to . We also are continuing with our Opportunities email blasts. If you are recruiting candidates for employment or are seeking additional employment opportunities please email your job posting or resume to

Telehealth Revised/Updated Guidance
· The State updated their Telehealth guidance. The guidance states under appropriateness of services, where a service or support requires the physical presence of a staff member for the health and safety of the individual, it is not appropriate to be delivered via telehealth. Telehealth services may only be utilized when the delivery of services can be effectuated via verbal prompting/cueing. Specifically, but not exclusively, residential habilitation, and live-in caregiver services shall not be delivered via telehealth. Additionally, when delivering respite services via telehealth, a provider must use two-way audio-visual technology; telephonic transmission is not permissible. Tic Tok and FaceBook Live remain prohibited. The guidance further states that service documentation must include: the reason for the service, name of the provider and credential ( id applicable), location of the provider, location of the individual receiving service, date of the visit, visit start and end time and the duration of the visit; whether a staff person or a member of the individual’s circle of support attended the session and identify such person(s) by name and title; note whether the session was successful or whether the session was interrupted due to the technology or equipment failure. Our current timesheets do allow for most of this information to be documented. The information that is not on the timesheet should be included in the description column of the timesheet. Our recommendation is that the COS meet to discuss this and ensure this information is being recorded on the timesheets.

Reminder – Electronic Upload Ability
· All timesheets, reimbursements, invoices including Broker invoices can be uploaded electronically through the portal. If you upload, them please do not mail them. If you mail them, we may not be able to process them as quickly.

· Keep in mind that Human Resources or your Self Direction Coordinator should be contacted if staff are seeking unemployment. This contact will help us keep track of all staff filing for unemployment and the reason. Support Staff are considered Essential Staff and should provide services as needed for the Participant. If staff refuse, please contact Human Resources or your Self Direction Coordinator as well.

Remember to help contain the spread of the virus, please stay home if you are sick, wash your hands thoroughly and often during the day, cover your mouth with a tissue or cough and sneeze into your elbow, avoid touching your face if possible and wear masks while around others. Please remember to contact to report a participant or a staff who tests positive for COVID-19 as mandated by the state.

Thank you, stay safe and be well!

Alan Kulchinsky
Executive Director