Helpful Things to Know About Your VA Medical Center
Today’s blog focuses on when you need Someone, Something, or Some Money to help you at home.
Although we share the experience of Serving Our Country, each of us Veterans has our own very unique and individual story. Today’s chapter in that story may, for many Veterans, include physical and/or mental health challenges that were never a struggle in the past; tasks that used to be accomplished with ease may be much harder or next-to-impossible to do today. For a lot of Veterans pushing through and making it happen anyway, all the while never asking for help, is a way of life.
You might say: “Who, me? Need help? No…not me. I got this.”
(And then, the reality check, behind the closed-door at home we really could use a helping hand).
- “It takes me at least fifteen minutes to get out of bed; and I gotta hold onto everything around me.”
- “Forget it…i just won’t wear socks today.”
- “I don’t care I can’t remember the last time I showered. I’ll do it when I’m up to it.”
Michele L. Sullivan, one of the 50 most powerful women in philanthropy once said “Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness. We all need help throughout our lives.”
If your days are filled with physical and/or mental health struggles, please know that your VA Medical Center does have options to help at home. Options that many Veterans may not know are out there. This blog entry will hopefully provide some basic, general guidance.
Curious? Here’s How VA Medical Centers Differ
First, it’s important to note that each VA Medical Center (VAMC) operates somewhat differently than another VA Medical Center. You might be wondering “Eh? But It’s just one VA though, right?“. The answer is, well, yes, but, consider this: like each school in one school district, each VAMC is guided by its own leader (Director). Each Medical Center Director has some autonomy about how the VAMC under their direction will carry-out its mission (within the regulations of the Veterans Administration, of course).
Also, each Medical Center has its own unique limitations. For example, some limitations may be based on what support services are available in the VAMC’s public community/region (like how many home health agencies exist in a specific area to be able to contract with that local VAMC for providing care for Veterans).
Even if we think that all of our VAMC’s should be the same and do everything the same way, the simple fact is, they aren’t and they don’t.
I say this to make the point that not every option for services is available at every VA Medical Center, and the options that ARE available may look different in one area than they do in another area. Don’t let that stop you, however, from seeking the help that you think may be the best for YOU.
What Options for Help At Home Does the VA Offer?
Here is a list along with a brief description of some possible options that your VA Medical Center might be able to provide YOU in order to bring Someone, Something, or Some Money to help YOU at home!
Home Health Aide Program (and, if eligible, possibly homemaker)
If you need assistance with some activities of daily living (ADLs), like bathing, getting dressed, toileting, eating, and mobility, you would apply with your Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) social worker. If approved, you would have a CNA come to your home a specified number of hours each week to assist. Also, If approved and you live alone, you may be eligible for someone to assist with homemaking tasks (like light-housework, meal prep, etc.)
Veteran Directed Program
Again, the application would be with your PACT. If service-connected eligible, and approved for this program, you would be provided an allotted amount of money and linked to a coordinator, to plan, hire, and pay the support services that you may require in order to remain in your own residence safely and sustainably.
DME – Durable Medical Equipment
Your Primary Care Physician (PCP) and PACT may assist you in securing a range of devices that may assist with safety, mobility, and accessibility at home. For example, a lift chair or over-bed lift. You would want to identify your specific obstacle and ask for a device that would assist.
Much like DME, and sometimes one-in-the-same, but these might include items like a cane, a walker, a manual wheelchair, a scooter, or an electric wheelchair. A shower chair or safety grab-bars to protect from falls.
Home Improvement and Structural Alterations may be what is needed to keep a Veteran in their own
residence safely and sustainably. This may include widening doorways, adding ramps, making alterations to bathroom facilities, etc. A Veteran’s PCP would begin this HISA referral with their order, as needed. The maximum cost expenditure allotment available to a Veteran for alterations to their residence differs depending on if a Veteran’s disabilities are service-connected or not service-connected. If service-connected, could be eligible possibly for SHA or SAH: Special Housing Adaptation Grant or Specially Adapted Housing Grant
This option used to be available to only post-9/11 Veterans injured or ill due to their service. It is still an option for these Veterans, but recent legislation may be opening this program to all era Veterans as well. In this program, the VA acknowledges that many Veterans already have a caregiver. An application which may be found online) would be required to be submitted. If approved, a Veteran’s Caregiver may be paid and provided support resources.
Aid and Attendance
This is also known as “House-bound.” There is a VA application that You would need to have your treating Physician complete. If approved, this would provide compensation to a Veteran to help the Veteran pay for caregiving, including possibly a non-professional caregiver family, friend, etc.) The more need a Veteran has for assistance with daily living, the higher the probability of approval for this compensation.
Home-Based Primary Care
There are times when (for various reasons) a Veteran’s health-care would be most beneficial to be provided to the Veteran in the Veteran’s own residence instead of at a VAMC, community-based outpatient clinic (CBOC), or other medical facilities. If this applies, a Veteran may wish to talk to their PCP about the option of being transferred to a Home-Based Primary Care Team that will come and care for the Veteran at home.
The programs, items, and options listed above are not the only things available from your VAMC, but they are things included in the conversation about“Helping me at Home.”
It is generally health-care professionals’ goal to do what can be done to keep a Veteran in their own home environment, safely and sustainably but, if staying at home is not working, or not safe;If more assistance or supervision is needed than what can be offered at home; in the next blog entry for “Helpful Stuff to Know About Your VA Medical Center,” we’ll address ideas and options specific to Veterans if and when our Veterans may want or need to consider care outside of home.