The Long Waitlist Issue for People with Disabilities

by | Jun 15, 2023

Millions of people in the United States face the same issue: the need for disability services, and a long waitlist to receive support services. In the meantime, natural supports, including parents and relatives, often find themselves grappling with the responsibility of supporting individuals with disabilities without adequate training, time, or resources, leaving them overwhelmed.

This article will discuss Remote Supports services and its potential impact on the lengthy wait for support services.

The Wait for Support Services

The wait for adequate support services is an ongoing due to a shortage of DSPs (Direct Support Professional) to provide support for millions people in the United States with I/DD (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities).

Featured in a recent PBS News Hour segment, Oklahoma had an application waitlist of about 13 years, with over 5,000 individuals waiting for qualification for support services. That means it takes a long time for people who need services to receive them, which puts pressure on their natural supports, such as family and friends.

But even after receiving a waiver (voucher to procure services), finding support services is still a challenge. Traditional providers have a worker shortage problem, and there are more people needing services than there are workers to service them.

The number of DSP workers has dramatically dwindled. This is due to 40% of workers leaving the industry in 2019, only to be further exacerbated during the covid-19 pandemic.

“With COVID-19, we’ve seen a major exiting of the workforce across all long-term care and health settings, and that does not appear to be coming back.”David Goldfarb, Arc of the United States

This problem is not unique to Oklahoma. All across our nation, the country is facing a shortage of home care workers. This line of work is considered one of the most needed jobs of the future.

How Do Support Services Waitlists Affect Families?

The act of caregiving is a job in itself. And without compensation for being a caregiver, people who are caregivers by default still need to work to survive. This double burden can affect everything in a family member’s life, including being able to maintain a paying job and even their ability to carve out a life for themselves.

Long waitlists mean that many families have the added stress of an unpaid role that impacts their earning ability, adding a mental health burden on families. In turn, this affects the caregiver’s mental health, stress, and ability to care for themselves and their loved ones.

Remote Supports Services: Support Services 3.0

Imagine a support service that combines the use of today’s technology and a support staff that’s located off-site. One of the well-known benefits of technology is its ability to increase efficiency and maximize productivity and effectiveness.

With this blended approach, Remote Supports Services offer a more efficient way to provide support without losing the human-to-human connection. In fact, it provides person-centered services as required by the HCBS settings rule. Best of all, it is available immediately without the challenge of waitlists.

Having a remote caregiver trained to ensure a person with I/DD is safe, happy, and fulfilled can help decrease the number of people waiting on support services.

Why Use Remote Supports Services?

Many individuals with I/DD are not physically limited and have the ability to live independently, as long as they receive the necessary support. Like everyone else, they want to have control over their own choices, and privacy, and they want the opportunity to be independent.

Remote Support services make it easier for individuals to feel independent and free. For instance, with the use of technology and available staff, a person with I/DD can confidently navigate the community on their own. They can also receive guidance from staff members to develop important life skills, like decision-making and self-advocacy.

With the shortage of workers in the industry, the limited number of DSP workers can be placed with people whose need for in-home support is more critical. It’s an opportunity to partner traditional support providers with Remote Supports providers to increase efficiencies and to work together to meet the increasing need for support services.

Remote Supports Services and How They Positively Impact Parents and Other Natural Supports

Remote Support Services can have a positive impact on parents and other natural supports by reducing their caregiving responsibilities. For instance, with these services, family members can have more personal time. They can enjoy a social life or take a few hours each week to prioritize their mental well-being.

Using Remote Supports Services relieves families of the difficult choice of having to choose between their jobs and caring for a loved one. It allows them peace of mind without sacrificing their livelihood.


Remote Supports Services are not only flexible for everyone involved, but it’s available! It provides peace of mind to caregivers. It fills the gap caused by worker shortages and increases the capability of individuals with disabilities to live their lives–in a similar way to non-disabled people. Increasing their sense of self and agency.

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