Project Idea

Connect PCAs/DSPs/Caregivers with Individuals Needing Help

##-- WHY --##

There are roughly 40,000 Hennepin County residents needing assistance to live independently, like myself. Our society is asking us (e.g. older adults and people with disability/chronic illness) to more independently manage our in-home support services, thereby reducing administrative costs and slowing the rising independent-living costs facing our nation. However, most individuals/families do not have access to recruiting knowledge, networks, or tools. We need a tool that is easy-to-use plus affordable to maintain (i.e. sustainable).


DECREASE COSTS: Such a tool will reduce the time and costs individuals/families face when looking for new support workers compared to current options (e.g. Craigslist, Plus, for families unable to manage their support services independently, this tool will still reduce administrative time and costs incurred by organizations assisting individuals/families. Ultimately, such a tool will empower individuals/families by allowing them to take more control of their services, help workers find jobs closer to home, and decrease the rising public costs for independent living services in Hennepin County (and hopefully beyond).


INCREASE QUALITY OF LIFE: Evidence suggests that workers living closer to the people they're helping tend to provide more assistance over a longer period of time. For example, workers living more than 5-10 miles from the person they're assisting often want longer shifts (e.g. 6-8 hours or more, which are rare). More importantly, they often find other jobs closer to their homes within 3-6 months, causing life changes for the worker and individual being helped. Workers living within 5 miles or so tend to stay a year or more and offer greater flexibility in terms of scheduling, which is a win for both. Turnover in this field typically occurs every 4-8 months, causing inconsistent supports and difficulty finding replacements.



##-- HOW --##

Help us create a geographically-based web/mobile app to help us more easily, quickly, and affordably connect with personal care assistants (PCAs), home health aides (HHAs), and other direct support professionals (DSPs) who might be looking for work near us; and, vice versa. Also, since many PCAs, HHAs, and DSPs rely on public transportation, we'd like to incorporate that data into the application.


We've been working on DSPMatch (, which already includes help-wanted postings. We're currently in the process of upgrading it to include job-seeker profiles/postings. We'd appreciate assistance creating a geography-based searching and matching algorithm.


DSPMatch is a civic innovation project, involving a variety of citizens and organizations. For example, the University of Minnesota College of Design and the User Experience Professionals Association’s Minnesota Chapter (UXPA-MN) helped students in the U's Fall "User Experience in Design" course (Des 3131) to guide the redesign of the DSPMatch website. Students provided us with 6 potential designs that we are currently working to incorporate.


DSPMatch is being piloted in the Twin Cities but is anticipated to scale nationally to help over 13 million Americans needing assistance with independent-living.


DSPMatch is built on Grails and hosted on Heroku, where we have access to PostgreSQL and MongoDB.



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Idea No. 19