Through the VA’s medical foster home program, senior vets who can no longer live safely on their own can apply to be taken care of in a private home close to their community. Ex-military personnel who have complex healthcare needs and do not wish to live in an institutional setting move in with people who have decided to open their homes and act as caregivers. Vets are matched with homes and caregivers that are most appropriate given their physical, social, and emotional needs.
Here are some fast facts on medical foster homes, courtesy of the VA:
- Who Receives Care?
The VA helps provide care for vets of all ages, but the average age of a person being cared for in a medical foster home is around 70. Each foster home can accommodate up to three veterans. To qualify for care in a medical foster home, a vet must be registered for Home Based Primary Care (HBPC), a special care program for seniors who require complex care services in their homes.
- Who Provides Care?
Every medical foster home has a trained caregiver on duty 24 hours a day. A caregiver can prepare meals, help a senior with activities of daily living (such as bathing, dressing and grooming), provide transportation and dispense medications.
While living in a medical foster home, a senior's care is overseen by a VA-regulated group of physicians, nurses, social workers, mental health professionals, pharmacists, dietitians, and rehabilitation therapists. Care plan development and management, therapy services, home visits from doctors and many other services are all provided though HBPC.
- What Are the Benefits?
According to the VA, all veterans being cared for in medical foster homes require nursing home-level care, yet fewer than 10 percent of seniors living in this unique care setting ever have to enter a nursing home. This VA program allows vets to remain in the community and be cared for in a family-like atmosphere. Seniors who live in these homes tout the benefits of living in a private residence (as opposed to an institutional care facility), having a certain amount of independence, and being treated as family members instead of patients.
Room and board is included in the monthly cost, and vets and their caregivers even collaborate on what kinds of activities and outings they want to participate in. The VA care team provides input based on the elderly person's condition and abilities.
- What Does a Medical Foster Home Cost?
While the VA regulates and oversees medical foster homes, an elderly vet must pay for their care out of their own pocket or by using another form of insurance. Monthly costs can vary (generally between $1,500 and $3,000) and are determined on an individual basis, depending on a vet’s income and the level of care they require. There may also be co-pays for services provided by HBPC, and these are based on the vet’s disability status and financial information.
- How Do Vets Apply?
Speak with your VA social worker or case manager to learn about eligibility requirements for both the HBPC program and medical foster home care. They will determine if you are a good fit for the program(s), see if there are any homes available in your area, and help get the application process started.
For more information, visit the VA website for medical foster home care.
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