How to Become a Paid Caregiver for a Family Member in Oregon: Step-By-Step

Updated

Certified Care Manager, Aging Life Care Professional, and National Master Guardian Emeritus

If only there were a federal program to reimburse family members who care for their loved ones. Currently, there is a proposal as part of the American Jobs Act which would allocate $400 billion over eight years to home- or community-based care for older adults and people with disabilities. But whether this legislation and the amount needed will be approved remains to be seen.

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Meanwhile, caregivers must rely on state-specific programs, many of which have strict eligibility criteria to receive payments as caregivers. No one disputes that caregivers need help, and the problem continues to grow as more and more people reach old age and few resources are available to help them.

If you have the financial ability to pay for private caregivers, you are in good shape, but most people have to take time off work or leave employment altogether to take care of loved ones.

Can a Family Member Get Paid to Be a Caregiver in Oregon?

A family member, friend, or professional can get paid to be a caregiver in Oregon but with stipulations and requirements. In Oregon, the program to pay caregivers is called the Independent Choices Program (ICP). Under this program, clients can hire family members or others to provide the care they need. These are the requirements to qualify for the program.

Who qualifies for ICP?

  • The client must be eligible for Medicaid and over the age of 65. The program is limited to 2,600 participants, so you may be placed on a waiting list.
  • The client must meet requirements for in-home services. An assessment is conducted to confirm that the client meets these eligibility criteria. In general, a client demonstrates that they need assistance with activities of daily living including, but not limited to, bathing, grooming, mobility, medications and hygiene.
  • Other assistance needs are related to cognitive impairment due to dementia, mental illness, a neurological disorder, or substance abuse. These individuals are unable to make rational, sound decisions regarding their care or finances. To qualify for the ICP program, the client must require the level of care typically provided in nursing homes.
  • A caregiving spouse or other professional must pass a criminal history check and meet the other Oregon Department of Human Services requirements for providing care.
  • The client and caregiver must develop a service plan and a budget to meet the identified needs.
  • The client must establish a separate checking account for the sole purpose of managing funds for ICP. 
  • You must prove that you have had a stable living situation for the past three months.
  • You have to demonstrate the ability to manage the funds provided by ICP to pay bills.
  • If the family caregiver decides to hire someone else to provide services under ICP, they must understand the ICP requirements for doing so.
  • You must understand the disenrollment process that the participant or the program may initiate.

What is the service budget?

  • The service budget must identify the “cash benefit, the discretionary and contingency funds if applicable, the reimbursement to an employee provider, and all other expenditures.” The service budget has to be approved initially by a department or AAA case manager.
  • The participant has the right to amend the service budget as long as those changes meet the client’s service needs and comply with all other ICP guidelines.
  • ICP will conduct a budget review to ensure financial accountability every six months.

What does the case manager do?

A case manager is assigned to all ICP recipients. This person is responsible for reviewing Medicaid eligibility, authorizing the service and budget plan, and conducting the six-month reviews. 

How Much Do Family Members Get Paid for Caregiving in Oregon?

How much family members get paid for caregiving in Oregon depends on several factors. The unique characteristic of Oregon Medicaid and the ICP program is that the participant is not bound by a specific pay rate, except that it must be above the minimum wage. 

The average pay is $15 an hour. Flexibility with pay rates is good in that participants can pay themselves or employees more. But they have to provide the number of hours outlined in the care plan and within the allowable budget. Below are some examples of the maximum number of hours associated with the different levels of assistance required. 

Keep in mind that your case manager might assign a different number of maximum hours from those listed. Please see the ICP policy and rules for a further breakdown of tasks and their associated number of hours permitted. 

Minimal assistance

Eating: 3 hours

Dressing: 2 hours 

Substantial assistance

Eating: 9 hours

Dressing: 7 hours

Bathing and hygiene: 7 hours

Full assistance

Eating: 14 hours

Dressing: 9 hours

Bathing and hygiene: 12 hours

Other tasks with assigned maximum hours are meal preparation, mobility, medication management, transportation, shopping, housekeeping, and laundry. 

The case manager determines the maximum hours needed for each task as designated by the ICP program guidelines.  If your needs change, the care plan and hours may adjust to reflect either a decline or improvement. 

Do You Need to Get Training to Become a Paid Family Caregiver in Oregon?

Oregon does not require that you get training to become a paid family caregiver. However, as part of the assessment process, the case manager may make recommendations on training to help you safely care for your loved one. 

Online caregiver training is a great place to get suggestions on how to perform specific tasks, and there are many caregiver resources for family caregivers.  Some family caregivers decide to become certified nursing assistants to bolster their skill sets. If you’re hiring someone outside the family, you can inquire about their experience and expertise. 

8 Steps to Become a Paid Caregiver for a Family Member in Oregon

The beneficiary of the ICP program (the person who requires care) is responsible for directing their care, with the help of their case manager, and hiring people to provide the services they need. 

They are the “employer,” and they can “hire” a spouse, family member, friend, or professional. If you’re a family member who wants to get paid as your loved one’s caregiver, these are the steps to take. 

1. Qualify for Oregon Medicaid

You can’t be paid as a family caregiver under the ICP program unless your loved one is eligible for and receiving Oregon Medicaid. To qualify for Medicaid, a person must meet income and asset criteria. 

2. Apply for the ICP Program

Application to the ICP program is through your Oregon Area Agencies on Aging. First, your loved one will need to make sure they read the ICP policies and rules to be confident that they qualify.

3. Pass a criminal background check

You as the potential caregiver need to submit to and provide proof of a criminal background check. The state provides the background check without charge. Once the background check results come back, you will find out whether you passed or not. 

4. Address immigration issues

You must be able to legally work in the United States since you’ll be considered your loved one’s employee. 

5. Develop a service and budget plan

Your family member and their case manager will develop the service and budget plan. They’ll also consider other in-home service options and assistive devices. Other considerations include accessibility modifications and other resources to meet the service needs identified in the assessment process. The case manager is responsible for determining the levels of assistance and maximum hours for each task.

6. Sign the participant agreement and set up a checking account

The participant must sign an agreement to abide by and state an understanding of all of the rules outlined in the ICP program. They also have to show proof of a separate bank account for the sole purpose of paying you, as the caregiver, for the services agreed to.

7. Help provide proof of a stable living environment

The program requires that the participant shows proof of a stable living environment over the last three months. A stable living environment indicates that they have a home where a caregiver can safely and adequately provide services. You can help your loved one demonstrate and provide proof of their living environment.   

8. Help provide proof of current utility and house payments

The purpose of this requirement is to show that the participant can manage money and pay you for your services under the program rules. As the potential caregiver, you can help your loved one work through this step. However, they must demonstrate this ability independently to their caseworker. 

Becoming a Paid Caregiver for a Family Member in Oregon

As you read through the requirements to become a paid family member in Oregon, you may feel overwhelmed by the process. But keep in mind that you can receive payments once you jump through the hoops and meet all of the qualifications. Once that happens, it can make a significant difference in your ability to provide care for your loved one while maintaining financial stability. 


Sources:
  1. “Homecare Investments for the Elderly Included in White House Infrastructure Plan.” The Washington Post. washingtonpost.com
  2. “Independent Choices Plan Program (ICP) Overview. Oregon Department of Human Services. dhs.state.or.us
  3. “Department of Human Services Aging and People With Disabilities Oregon Administrative Rules.” Oregon Department of Human Services. dhs.state.or.us
  4. “Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid/SCHIP).” Benefits.gov. benefits.gov
  5. “Oregon State List: Area Agencies on Aging.” Oregon Care Planning Council. carefororegon.org 
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