COVID-19 Resources for the Disability Community in Arizona
Check out these helpful resources to stay healthy, create a plan and fight isolation
by Sarah Ruf, Community Relations Specialist
ARIZONA—There is a lot of new information right now due to concerns about the recent COVID-19 strain of coronavirus.
Our staff at the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council would like to add a few helpful tips for the developmental disability community in Arizona.
Here is a list of COVID-19 resources specifically for people with developmental disabilities and high medical needs about how to prepare and plan:
The Area Agencies on Aging in central and southern Arizona have launched Healing @ Home, a care program for people with disabilities ages 18 and older and seniors over 60 who have contracted COVID-19 or at extreme risk for getting it. It is a program that will deliver services for at least 30 days and up to 90 days based on need. Examples of services offered include home-delivered meals for 30 days, weekly telephone reassurance calls, grocery shopping assistance, prescription pick-up or delivery assistance, arrangement of follow up visits with PCPs and specialists. In Maricopa County, please contact the dedicated 24-hour referral line at (602) 883- 3527 or via email at [email protected]. In Pima County, shopping services up to two trips per month to obtain food and other essential items will be provided at no cost to eligible older adults. Enrolled individuals will pay for the items they receive. Pima Council on Aging is partnering with Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest to provide this service. If you or a loved one are in need of grocery shopping assistance call (520) 790-7262 or email [email protected]
People with disabilities who are hospitalized can access a medical advocate or a family member according to new federal civil rights resolution issued by the Office of Civil Rights under the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The OCR resolution makes clear that hospital visitor policies nationwide must accommodate patients with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the press release from The Arc about the resolution here.
In the May 21 ADDN weekly Zoom call, we shared a PowerPoint slide deck with results from an audience survey gauging the comfort and preparedness levels of Arizonans impacted by developmental disability on reopening the state. You can see the slides here. Based on the feedback in the survey, ADDN leaders sent a letter to Arizona state officials asking for more communication and resources during the COVID-19 crisis for people with disabilities. You can read that letter here.
Great resources on the state of benefits and stimulus checks are available at Arizona Disability Benefits 101 on its Coronavirus Resources page: https://az.db101.org/news/news_8257.htm
Arizona legal issues impacting people with disabilities and their families, including during the COVID-19 crisis, are topics for Tucson-based Fleming and Curti law firm podcasts here: https://elder-law.com/podcasts/
The national Loud and Clear blog at the Special Needs Alliance lists legal resources regarding stimulus check payments, special needs trusts, guardianship issues and other COVID-19 information: https://www.specialneedsalliance.org/information-center/blog/
How are guardianship responsibilities impacted under COVID-19 guidelines? This fact sheet from the National Guardianship Association and the American Bar Association explains frequently asked questions around this topic. Issues covered include protecting clients or loved ones' rights and well-being, and access to them in nursing homes, residential group settings, hospitals, and courts.
There is an update for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients with qualifying dependents eligible for COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments: individuals must fill out the IRS's Non-Filer Tool by Tuesday, May 5, 2020 for full payment as soon as possible. These SSI recipients who did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and who have qualifying dependents must submit additional information using the IRS’s Non-Filer tool. Eligible SSI recipients will reportedly start receiving their automatic payments directly from the Treasury Department in early May.
A communication card for people with combined vision and hearing loss who are hospital patients is available at the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
More guidance for congregate settings (group homes, adult developmental home providers, and center-based services) was released by the Division of Developmental Disabilities on April 10. You can read the updated guidance here.
People with disabilities who receive Social Security benefits are still eligible for the upcoming economic impact stimulus checks from the federal government. If you don't typically file for taxes, you may need to sign up on the online portal at IRS.gov to ensure delivery of your check. Find out more here.
Special education questions and answers was the theme of the second weekly Zoom call hosted by the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Network. Watch the recorded second session here and look at top themes that emerged here. We've updated the full Frequently Asked Questions on a shared Google Doc with more answers and shared resource links. Our third session will feature leaders from DDD and will take place starting at 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Phoenix Time on Wednesday, April 8, 2020.
Online Article 9 Training for Arizona providers is available at https://ap.training/ and https://heartsaversinc.com/article-9-training/
The Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing has collected inclusive resources for Arizonans with hearing challenges. Check out their full COVID-19 resource list here.
Need assistance applying for unemployment? Arizonans with disabilities can give permission over the phone to have someone assist them in answering the questions to submit an Unemployment Insurance claim. Individuals without an Internet connection can call 1-877-600-2722 to apply. You can also have someone assist in submitting a claim online at www.AZUI.gov
Applicants can apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits online at www.AZUI.gov anytime or call Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. - 6 p.m.
The National Disability Institute has highlighted important takeaways for people with disabilities from the third relief package passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump, the CARES Act and Family First Response Act. It's an excellent write-up and you can access it here.
Another plain-language resource from Green Mountain Self-Advocates allows people with disabilities to learn how to talk to support staff and what to expect when caregivers get sick. Download the PDF booklet here: "Plain Language Tips for Working with Support Staff During COVID-19"
The Arizona Developmental Disabilities Network has launched a weekly community call through Zoom. Watch the first online listening session here. Top themes emerged from Arizona's disability community, including concerns about students in special education, provider day-to-day operations, paid sick leave and more. Read up on the top challenges and answers to common questions here. Participants shared resources with each other, and a compiled list of those online links can be found here. Our second session will take place Wednesday, April 1, 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Phoenix Time.
Worried about your civil rights while seeking treatment for COVID-19? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights has provided this bulletin to ensure that entities covered by civil rights authorities keep in mind their obligations under laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and exercise of conscience and religion in HHS-funded programs. The bulletin states that, "…persons with disabilities should not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person’s relative “worth” based on the presence or absence of disabilities or age. Decisions by covered entities concerning whether an individual is a candidate for treatment should be based on an individualized assessment of the patient and his or her circumstances, based on the best available objective medical evidence." Disability Scoop has more info here.
Residents of Tucson and Southern Arizona can check out this shared Google Doc for aid with basic services, including food, medical care, mental health and emergency funds for specific out-of-work industries such as restaurant workers and musicians: https://docs.google.com/document/u/0/d/1-GowmMMC-qPjOauJvry-DVjpylE-fvHrzt3UENXwems/mobilebasic
The PDS Foundation Dentists for Special Needs is currently serving Arizona residents with developmental disabilities with dental needs. Call 602-344-9530 or www.dentistsforspecialneeds.com for more information.
Eligible family members in Arizona can be paid now to care for their adult children with disabilities over 18. Ask your provider about options and check out the Arizona Health Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) Frequently Asked Questions page for more information under the section header "Provider Enrollment and Requirements." On March 17, AHCCCS requested permission in a letter to The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to pay parents of children under 18 for the provision of home and community-based services (HCBS). They are waiting for a response, but expect one soon. Check the AHCCCS FAQs and DDD FAQs regularly for updates.
This Emergency Communication Picture Board in English and Spanish for individuals who are nonverbal is available as a download - Emergency Communication 4 All Picture Aid was created by the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University. Also available is a communication aid for people who have trouble communicating, but can read or spell - download in English or Spanish.
The national Caregiver Help Desk can provide family caregivers a way to have confidential conversations with caregiving experts about caregiving questions Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Call 855-227-3640.
The Social Security Administration has changed the way it's operating - all office buildings are closed - and the other changes are listed on a fact sheet at the National Center on Law and Elder Rights. One big change is the posting of direct phone numbers for local SSA offices, where clients can call for assistance.
The Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities now has posted Frequently Asked Questions regarding services and changes due to COVID-19. You can read them here. The full website with the latest updates for DDD members and vendors is available here.
For people in Southern Arizona who need help with daily tasks inside the home, they can call the Community Service System at the Pima Council on Aging at (520) 790-7262. Highest need folks are served first. A volunteer group of Realtors in Green Valley is coordinating grocery shopping and drop-off for home-bound individuals in need, according to the Green Valley News. You can request help on the group's Facebook page, "Realtors & friends helping seniors during Coronavirus." They are also serving the Sahuarita, Arivaca and Amado communities. If you'd like to donate food, baby essentials or volunteer to drop off, leave a comment on the Facebook page after clicking "join."
Medication refill requirements will be relaxed by the Arizona Health Cost Containment System, known as AHCCCS. This includes allowing “refill too soon” and allowing 90-day refills for medications that are not controlled substances. Many major pharmacy chains are offering free prescription delivery. The pharmacy staff may contact the prescribing clinician to request approval for the early refill. If the prescribing clinician approves the early refill, the pharmacy staff will contact the health plan's Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) Help Desk for an override. Please inquire with your pharmacy for more details. You can check out the rest of the COVID-19 question and answer guide on medications and other AHCCCS services on this FAQ page.
Per ABC15, Shop Safe AZ is a program that links at-risk individuals to volunteers who are willing and able to do supply and grocery shopping, as well as errands. Visit the website at http://www.shopsafeaz.com/ to sign up as a volunteer or to request help. For more information, please email [email protected]
If you experience problems accessing services or reporting abuse and neglect due to COVID-19 concerns, the Arizona Center for Disability Law is gearing up to handle complaints - anyone can contact them you have been denied access to necessary services due to COVID-19 or feel that your legal rights have been violated, contact ACDL toll free within Arizona at 1-800-927-2260 or email [email protected]
UPDATED: A full list of local stores open to vulnerable adults and older individuals in Arizona to take part in a block of shopping hours set aside just for them until further notice is available at AZFamily.com. Check the link for each store's hours and rules.
Tips for Individuals with Hearing Impairments as they prepare for emergencies are available here.
How are special education services affected by this outbreak? The Arizona Center for Disability Law has issued a COVID-19 and Special Education Guide to help parents understand their child's rights during this critical time.
Download this COVID-19 information booklet that uses plain language with pictures, created by the Green Mountain Self-Advocates organization - you can also download a Spanish version of the booklet here. You can also view it on social media here.
Are you feeling anxious or lonely? You don't have to feel alone. Sometimes it helps to talk to someone. Call the CRN Warm Line at (602) 347-1100. If you live outside of Maricopa County, you can still call and staff can transfer you to your local center. You can also reach out to the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona on their hotline at 888-500-9165 to speak with someone if you're feeling isolated.
Review our ADDPC Emergency Preparedness Manual in English and Spanish. It has checklists, emergency contacts for Arizona and information on building a preparedness plan, including a support network in case in-home care providers call out sick.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted tips for older communities at high risk for COVID-19 on the CDC website.
Ready.gov also features a section with general emergency preparedness tips for people with disabilities.
For the latest in Arizona updates on the state's public health response to COVID-19, you can visit here.
Check out our short video recap about important resources on our Facebook page here.
We also want to assure everyone that we are reviewing our upcoming scheduled events amid the recent COVID-19 concerns. We know many people with disabilities and high medical needs must take extra precautions in order to stay healthy. So far, the ADDPC-sponsored events that have been canceled/postponed are the March 21 Adulting workshop hosted by the Sonoran UCEDD and the March 30 National Listening Session hosted by The Arc of Arizona.
Stay updated by checking our ADDPC Facebook page for the latest updates on event changes and resources for staying safe. You can always reach out via phone at (602) 542-8970 or email [email protected] if you have questions. Thank you and stay safe!