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The Tasks and Characteristics of Supportive Support Brokers

Ellen Mahoney, Grace Oh, Carmen Morano, Kevin Mahoney, Andrew DeVellis
Journal of Gerontological Social Work 2019 January 6, : 1-20
In the United States, under the Cash and Counseling or budget authority model of self-directed personal assistance where the participant manages his or her own services and supports, the Support Broker role was established to assist and coach the participant. The support broker role grew out of a person-centered planning process where focus groups and surveys helped ascertain what potential participants wanted to help them establish a self-directed alternative. But, despite this role being described in policy guidance from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, little research has been conducted examining the functions, activities and usefulness of this position. This study draws on 76 ethnographic case studies with early Cash and Counseling participants, examines what participants and their caregivers actually saw the support broker doing, and looks at what the participants found helpful and less than helpful. Participants and family caregivers saw support broker duties as falling into four areas: Coaching, Problem Solving, Advocacy and Monitoring. Equally important was how the support broker performed these duties. Key aspects of quality included: Familiarity, Supportive Relationship, Proactive Engagement, Responsiveness, Knowledge and Cultural Friendliness. These findings can provide the basis for establishing quality indicators for self-direction.


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