The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced plans to expand three of its home- and community-based caregiving services to its 171 medical centers by the end of 2026.
“These evidence-based programs allow veterans to age in place, avoid or delay nursing home placement and choose the care environment that aligns most with their care needs, preferences and goals,” said Scotte Hartronft, a physician and the executive director of the VA’s Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care. “Veterans using these programs have experienced fewer hospitalizations and emergency department visits, reduced hospital and nursing home days, and fewer nursing home readmissions and inpatient complications.”
Which three services are expanding?
Services are expanding to areas with the highest unmet needs and will include the addition of 58 medical foster homes, 70 veteran-directed care programs and 75 home-based primary care teams within these programs:
- Home-Based Primary Care: This program is for service members who need in-home support for ongoing diseases and illnesses that affect their daily lives. A VA physician oversees a team that provides health care services to veterans in their own homes. It is designed for veterans facing isolation and veterans whose caregivers need extra help.
- Medical Foster Home: A trained caregiver provides services to a few people in a private home. Some, but not all, residents are veterans. The VA inspects and approves all Medical Foster Homes, which serve as alternatives to nursing homes.
- Veteran-Directed Care: Veterans of any age may be eligible to receive personal care services for help with daily living activities such as bathing, dressing and preparing meals. Veterans are given a budget for services that are managed by service members themselves or their representatives.
Why are these programs expanding?
Greater access to these programs allows for more in-home or smaller care settings, rather than traditional long-term care centers. More veterans have chosen these living arrangements during the pandemic to gain flexibility in care preferences and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
The VA forecasts that the number of veterans eligible for nursing home care is estimated to increase from approximately 2 million in 2019 to over 4 million by 2039.
Aaron Kassraie writes about issues important to military veterans and their families for AARP. He also serves as a general assignment reporter. Kassraie previously covered U.S. foreign policy as a correspondent for the Kuwait News Agency’s Washington bureau and worked in news gathering for USA Today and Al Jazeera English.