One of the challenges families of those with long-term disabilities face is how to care for their loved ones at home, while still managing other responsibilities.

That’s where Northeast Arc’s Personal Care Management (PCM) program comes in — helping individuals to keep their independence, stay in the community and manage their own personal care.

Northeast Arc is one of fewer than 20 agencies working to connect families to MassHealth’s Personal Care Attendant (PCA) program. The program provides funding for eligible people with permanent or chronic disabilities to hire others to assist them with daily living tasks for an approved amount of time each week.

Northeast Arc’s PCM program serves about 5,000 individuals living in northeastern Massachusetts, Greater Boston, and the Metro West area. The organization’s skills trainers, with the help of a nurse and occupational therapist, evaluate a person’s need for PCA services through in-home observation, medical history and assessments. They then prepare an application to submit to the insurer, which grants final approval of the recommended care plan. Once approved, the skills trainer guides the individual in hiring, training and scheduling their own personal care attendant. If an individual cannot independently manage their PCA program, they can have the help of a surrogate—most often a family member.

For Malden resident Gloria Ricardi Castillo, the PCA program has provided invaluable support in caring for her adult son, Fabian, who has autism, as well as bipolar, anxiety and seizure disorders. He attends a day program that supports individuals with autism, and returns home each afternoon to a personal care attendant.

“It’s been a godsend,” said Castillo. “My son can’t be home alone to take care of his own needs, so it’s such a relief to know that someone is at home waiting for him and assisting him until I get back. It really takes a lot of the stress away and allows you as a parent and caregiver to still work. My dream is that he will always be with his family — me or my two daughters. I know it’s important for him to feel safe and comfortable in his own home, surrounded by love, so this program has been so beneficial for us.”

Ricardi Castillo serves as director of Northeast Arc’s Family Support Centers, which include the Autism Support Center and Family Resource Center. She was introduced to the organization as a parent, participating in the support centers’ programs and joining the Parent Advisory Board of the Family Resource Center. She has worked for Northeast Arc for 25 years.

“I was fortunate to learn about this organization, both as an employee and a parent,” she said. “I’ve learned so many things to benefit the families we serve, as well as my own.”

Share This