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Brokerage Basics

"What about...?"(The FAQs)

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Resource Connections of Oregon?
Resource Connections of Oregon (RCO) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides services to about 700 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in the Mid-Willamette Valley area. While we began in 1998, we have operated as a brokerage since 2002 and serve Marion, Linn, and Yamhill counties. Our agency is governed by a board of directors primarily comprised of people with I/DD and their family members. Our funding comes through a contract with the State of Oregon Department of Human Services.

What is a Brokerage?
Brokerages are private agencies (usually nonprofit) that contract with the Oregon Department of Human Services to provide case management, resources, and access to in-home support services. We offer self-directed, person-centered services. Brokerages serve about 8,000 people statewide.

Why are you called a Brokerage?
When you think of the work “Brokerage”, you probably think of insurance or the stock market. We do neither of those things. However, those kind of brokerages try to get people the best deal on the market. Similarly, Support Service Brokerages were designed to help our customers get the most out of their resources. Think of us as a link between your goals and the resources you need to carry out those goals.

Where do Brokerages come from?
Brokerages are the result of a lawsuit several families brought against the State of Oregon at the end of the 1990s. Over 5,000 people had been on waitlists for community-based services for many, many years. The lawsuit (Staley v. Kitzhaber) resulted in the Staley Agreement, which paved the way for the brokerage services. Strong self-advocate, family, and community leaders pushed for a new way of providing case management and services in the community, and the Support Service Brokerage was born.

What is a Personal Agent?
When brokerages were designed, back in 2001, the idea was to stop having people feel like “cases” who were “managed” by a “case manager”. No one wants to be a case, and no one wants to be managed. So, the families, self-advocates, and community leaders who helped to craft the brokerage model came up with the term Personal Agent (PA). At our core, we are case managers, and that is how our services are defined. So, you may here us referred to that way as well, but our preferred title is still Personal Agent.

Most people hear the term “agent” and immediately picture a sports agent or an actor’s agent. Both of those professionals work hard to connect their clients with the best situation possible to maximize their abilities. For example, they will try to get an athlete connected to a team with a need for someone with just their client’s skills.

A Personal Agent’s job is just that - to connect you with resources in the community (paid and unpaid) that will make the most of your strengths and skills, in order to help you live a full life.

Who is eligible for your services?
Learn more about eligibility here.

How often will I see my Personal Agent?
When you’re new to services you’ll see us quite a bit. We have initial paperwork to go over, an assessment to move through, and we’ll develop a plan with you.

After that, at least quarterly (every three months) we will check in with you. For some customers, we will check in monthly. You and your PA will discuss what schedule makes the most sense for you.

Expect to meet with your PA at least once annually face to face. That’s required for you to remain in services.

What hours does my Personal Agent work?
RCO is generally open Monday through Friday from 8 to 5, except for most major holidays and occasionally for training. PAs are generally available during those business hours. You can reach them by email or phone. If you are unable to reach your PA during business hours and require immediate assistance, please call our main line at 503-485-2510 and we’ll have someone help you in their absence. If you have an emergency, be sure to call 911 first.

How many customers does a PA work with?
RCO's goal is to keep customer numbers low to maximize the direct contact possible with your personal agent, reduce response time and to increase the ability for a PA to know your needs and find you the supports you need. Our target customer base is between 36-38 customers per PA. We also approach case management from a team perspective, so you may have contact with another PA from time to time.

When I leave a message, how long should I expect to hear back from my Personal Agent or other RCO staff?
Our goal is to return all calls the same day received. However, that isn’t always possible. If you leave a voicemail or send an email, a return call or email should be expected within two business days. Even if the answer is “I don’t know, let me check on that,” you deserve a quick response.

Who do I contact when my PA is on vacation?
When our staff are on vacation or out for any extended period of time, we’ll be sure to update our outgoing voicemails and our email out-of-office replies to let you know who is covering. If you experience an issue with someone not responding or you need something immediately, please call our main line at 503-485-2510 and we’ll have someone assist you in your PA’s absence.

Will I still have a County Case Manager/Service Coordinator?
No. Your PA becomes your case manager when you transfer to brokerage services.

Can I choose to work with another case management agency?
Absolutely. You can choose any brokerage with capacity in you county or the local county Developmental Disabilities Program. Check out the Rights and Responsibilities pages for more details. You may also view links to brokerages statewide on our websiteby clicking here or at theMy Brokerage My Choice website.

What is Self Determination?
Self Determination is a philosophy and process by which people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are empowered to gain control over the selection of supports that meet their needs. We believe that freedom, authority, autonomy, and responsibility are the key to living a full life – for everyone, regardless of disability. You should have the freedom to plan a life with the supports you need. You should have the authority to control your service resources. You should have the support you need to be involved in the community. And you should have the responsibility to oversee your services and appropriately use public funds. We’re here to support you each step of the way.

What is an Adult Needs Assessment?
The ANA (Adult Needs Assessment) is a tool designed by the State of Oregon to record a person’s disability-related support needs. It must be completed with all new customers prior to writing the first plan and authorizing paid supports. The assessment asks a series of questions about your needs and determines the number of paid supports a person might be eligible for. This assessment is redone at least annually, but a re-assessment can be conducted any time, just ask. By rule, a brokerage has 45 days to perform a re-assessment upon request, but we will likely be able to do so much sooner in most cases.

Do I have to use all the hours the assessment offers?
Not at all. In fact, many people don’t. The assessment theoretically assesses all of your needs – met and unmet. Often, people already have their needs met by other people in their lives and don’t require additional supports. The idea is to use additional resources when you need them, expanding your life and increasing your independence.

What is an ISP?
ISP stands for Individual Support Plan. We’ll probably refer to it as “your plan” most of the time. Once we know your goals and we identify the resources you’ll need to reach those goals, we’ll write a plan together. Your planning meeting can be as simple as just you and your PA – or it can be a roomful of people who are important to you. It’s really up to you.

What if I want to make changes to my plan?
Easy. Folks do it all the time. Just call your PA and they’ll help you update your plan to reflect the changes you want and need.

What kinds of providers are available to me?
Learn more about providers here.

What if I want to change providers?
No problem. Brokerages are based on choice. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. When you want to make a change, give your PA a call. We’ll help you with the changes you’d like to make.

How does my PA know what can/can’t be paid for through my plan?
Brokerages are funded through a mix of state and federal funding. Depending on the service you’re receiving, the funding comes from either the Title XIX Waiver, the Community First Choice Option/K Plan (part of the Affordable Care Act.), or, less commonly, The State Plan Personal Care. If you’d like to learn more about these programs, check out the services page on our website by clicking here.

What do I do if I’m not happy with my Personal Agent? Can I choose a new PA?
If things aren’t working out for some reason, we encourage you to talk to your PA about the issue. If that doesn’t work or if you aren’t comfortable with this, you can always call either a Lead Personal Agent or our Executive Director. Choice is our biggest goal. We want you to have the right match. After all, this person plays a key role in helping you live the life you want to live.

Who can I talk to if I have more questions?
You can always call your Personal Agent, a Lead Personal Agent, or our Executive Director. Reach us by calling 503-485-2510.