Oregon Project Independence, Protecting our Seniors

For Immediate Release: Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sponsored by: Health and Human Services Department, Division

 At its recent session, the State Legislature managed to find $10 million to save a program that serves senior citizens, Oregon Project Independence (OPI).  The program provides in-home services such as bathing, light housekeeping, mobility assistance and laundry for seniors which can enable them to age at home and avoid costly institutional care.

In 1975, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2163, which directed the Department of Human Services to develop and place in effect a program of supportive services to persons age 60 or older and required a fee for service based on the ability to pay. 

At that time, there were no other in-home services available other than Medicaid.  However, many people were not Medicaid eligible and were "falling through the cracks."  The resulting program, OPI has saved many seniors from premature institutionalization by providing a minimum amount of in-home services. 

Since 1975, services have changed to meet growing needs and increased population.  The primary services include light housekeeping and bathing assistance, although additional services have been available when funding allows. 

The Goals for OPI include the following:

  • Promote quality of life and independent living among seniors and people with physical disabilities
  • Provide preventive and long-term care services to reduce the risk for institutionalization and promote self-determination
  • Provide services to frail and vulnerable older adults who have limited or no access to other Long Term Care services
  • Optimize personal and community resources.

Currently there are 89 OPI clients in Washington County, with an additional 30 on a waiting list.  Clients utilize approximately 17 hours of services per month.  The cost per client is about $257.55 monthly.

Compare that to the current costs of institutional facilities (depending on services required):

  • Private pay rate for Assisted Living Facility:  $2000-$6000
  • Private pay rate for Nursing Facility: $4000-$8000
  • Private pay rate for Adult Foster Home:  $1000-$5000

The cost savings of OPI more than justifies the program.

Before the 2009 legislature met, several OPI recipients in Washington County offered to go to the Capitol to talk to legislators in support of OPI.  A total of five seniors lobbied at the State Capitol on April 30th.  They enthusiastically shared their experiences and needs for the program and were heard and acknowledged by many.  Their stories touched the hearts of those who listened.  Many senior citizens will benefit from the message that these five carried to Salem.

Washington County Disability, Aging and Veteran Services (DAVS) is a conduit for those who wish to advocate for seniors and programs like OPI.  Among the opportunities for advocacy include the following:

  • Join advocacy networks, receive the latest information on "What's Happening."  Email the Oregon Association of Area Agencies and Disabilities (O4AD) at info@o4ad.org, or call 1-503-643-8692.
  • Visit O4AD's website at www.o4ad.org.
  • Call, email or fax your legislators to let them know that you appreciate their support of seniors and of OPI in particular.
  • Consider coming to the Washington County Aging and Veteran Services Advisory Council meetings and/or join the Council.  For more information, please contact Janet Long at 503-615-4651.

"Special thanks go to our county's legislative delegation, whose support for OPI helped immeasurably," says Jeff Hill, Division Manager for Washington County Disability, Aging and Veteran Services. 

Media Contact:

Rebecca Tabra, Information and Access Specialist