Anticipating boom in aging veterans, VA to expand care and services for seniors

The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to expand several programs that allow older veterans to age in place or live in family-like environments as alternatives to aged care facilities.

VA officials announced Monday that they will expand the Primary Home Care and Veteran-Directed Care programs, which provide medical care and care services to homebound elderly veterans, and its Medical Foster program. Home, which provides housing and services to veterans who would otherwise be in nursing homes.

The expansion is necessary, officials with the VA’s Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care said, to ensure the department can support growing numbers of veterans who are eligible for nursing home care.

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By 2039, the number of older veterans is expected to double, from 2 million to 4 million.

“These evidence-based programs enable veterans to age in place, avoid or delay retirement home placement, and choose the care environment that best matches their needs, preferences, and retirement goals. of care,” Dr. Scotte Hartronft, executive director of the office, said in a press release.

Since 1999, the The Department of Veterans Affairs was requested provide nursing home services to veterans who are eligible for VA health care and have a service-related disability rating of 70% or greater, or are deemed unemployable and have a disability rating of 60% or more.

This care is provided by short-term or long-term nursing homes, respite care, VA community living centers, private assisted living facilities, state veterans homes, and the Medical Foster program Home.

Medical foster homes are places where veterans live full-time in a home with an authorized caregiver to provide 24-hour support, meals, housing, assistance with daily living, and companionship.

The program places veterans in homes owned or operated by caregivers licensed by their states as assisted living facilities.

To be eligible for the program, veterans must be enrolled in VA health care and have a complex disabling medical condition that requires coordination of care between VA departments and is severe enough to require a nursing home level of care.

Because medical foster homes are not considered institutional care, the VA cannot pay the cost directly. Veterans can use their VA disability award, earnings, and Social Security savings to pay for the cost, which covers housing, meals, and support.

The VA has faced challenges in increasing the number of medical foster homes due to stringent regulations and requirements for facilities and caregivers.

The process to become a home-based provider is rigorous: they must pass a federal background check, complete 80 hours of initial training and 20 hours of additional training each year, and maintain certifications in first aid, CPR, and medication administration.

Home caregivers must live on-site, are required to provide round-the-clock supervision and care for their veterans, and have backup staff when they go on vacation or need to conduct other activities.

Veterans of the Medical Foster Care program must also use the VA’s Primary Home Care program, which provides a team of medical professionals to treat veterans at home. A VA study found that this type of home care resulted in a 31% reduction in hospital admissions for program veterans and a 59% drop in hospital days for VA inpatients.

VA officials said more veterans are choosing to use the Medical Care and Home Caregiver programs during the pandemic, as well as the Medical Foster Care program, to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19 and have more flexibility in medical treatment.

“Veterans using these programs experienced fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits, fewer hospital and nursing home days, and fewer nursing home readmissions and hospital complications,” Hartronft said.

More information about these programs is available on the VA Office of Geriatrics and Continuing Care website.

– Patricia Kime can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime

Related: Veterans Choose Medical Foster Home Program Over Nursing Home

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