What is ABPAS?
In 2010, my spine began to compress, resulting in my inability to function independently and significantly increased reliance on personal assistant services. In On Becoming More Disabled, I described the shock of the change, my appreciation of the work attendants perform, and the luck I have living in California, where people with developmental disabilities receive the assistance they need regardless of their income or assets.
Attendants differ from caregivers in the same way the independent living model differs from the medical model. The medical model helps patients’ get better,’ feel better, be comfortable, etc. The independent living model enables consumers to do what they want to do, live the life they want to live. It is a very different mindset.
Attendants often perform extremely personal care tasks for minimum wages, no fringe benefits, little or no training, and a wide range of work environments. They see us at our best and worst. Their reliability, punctuality, and ability to understand non-verbal cues are often critical to our survival. Medical team members, including caregivers, usually only see us when we are ill or in a strange, confining, and alienating environment.
I am starting Abilicorp Foundation as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission will initiate and promote Disabled Owned Businesses. Its 1st project is developing and implementing the Abilicorp – Personal Assistant Services(ABPAS) in the Berkeley/Oakland area, with plans to roll out its new model to many communities.
Our Unique Approach
ABPAS is the latest community-driven agency to actualize the independent living model. The independent living model affirms that consumers (people with disabilities, elders, and their families) are the experts on their own needs and when those needs are met, can live the lives they want to live.
ABPAS realizes this ideology by giving consumers as much control as they want over their attendant search, hiring, and management processes while providing attendants with living wages, healthcare options, training opportunities, and support. While other agencies charge high overhead fees for middle management services, ABPAS offers a variety of models for the attendant management process giving the consumer total agency in their search and over their finances.
Consumers can use the website tool for free and independently handle the entire attendant management process and the forms therein; or consumers can hire and supervise an independence facilitator to coordinate attendant management. Alternatively, ABPAS can be the legal employer of attendants, responsible for payroll, tax filings, liability, etc., giving consumers as much or as few day-to-day management responsibilities as they want.
ABPAS will also offer the infrastructure for support circles: localized networks of attendants and consumers that share work schedules, rotate attendants, and respond to emergency or irregular needs. Support circles allow attendants and consumers greater flexibility knowing they are held in a diversified network of support that can adapt in the face of emergencies or changes in schedule.
Holding equity at its core, ABPAS will work with government agencies and healthcare plans to help ensure that people with disabilities and elders receive the assistance they need regardless of income and assets, and that attendants receive livable wages and benefits.
We will work with consumers and their support circles to recruit attendants from colleges, universities, medical schools, community groups, religious institutions, and social media. We envision interwoven communities where everyone can live the life they want.