VA Medical Foster Care Program Expanding to 46 States by 2013

The VA Medical Foster Care Program helps keep veterans out of nursing homes and away from expensive and impersonal home health care.  Due to positive response and widespread interest, the VA plans to expand the program to 102 sites across 46 states over the next 12 months.

Since its creation in 2000, the VA Medical Foster Care program has been allowing veterans the option of living with a family or home caregiver in their community.

Currently 424 caregivers in 36 states have opened their homes to veterans.  Those caregivers are compensated anywhere between $1200 – $3000.  They are also well-trained, and undergo a thorough application process that includes:

  • An in-home inspection by a social worker, a dietitian, a registered nurse and a physical therapist.
  • Interviews and background checks by VA staff.
  • The foster caregiver and anyone else who lives in or moves into the house must be fingerprinted and pass health tests that include a check for tuberculosis. This screening process also includes any help that she hires.

Like a home health aide situation, veterans in medical foster care homes also receive regular visits from hospital staff.  This is all covered by typical VA benefits.

“The program is meant to provide veterans with an alternate long-term care option in a safe and home-like environment and just to be able to offer vets the choice to remain living in a community, family home setting if they are faced with the need to move into a nursing home or a more institutionalized setting,” said April Bartlett, the medical foster home coordinator for the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System..

“The tagline for the program is ‘Where heroes meet angels.’”

Medical Foster Homes can be distinguished from many other community residential care homes because,

  1. the home is owned or rented by the caregiver;
  2. the caregiver lives in the home and provides personal care and supervision; and
  3. there are never more than three residents receiving care in the home.

Interested?

Here is a current list of the cities with active Medical Foster Homes.  If VA Medical Foster Care is something that you or a Veteran you know might be interested in, click here to locate the closest VA Medical center for more information.

Below are some other great resources for assisted living:

House Passes Military Construction/VA Funding Bill 407-12

House Passes VA Funding: By a vote of 407-12, the House Thursday night overwhelming passed the Military Construction/VA funding bill despite threats of a veto by “the Administration”. The bill, H.R. 5854, provides $146.4 billion dollars for FY 2013, which is a 10-percent increase above last year’s levels. VA funding includes $54.5 in Advanced Appropriations for medical care, a boost for medical services and increases for jobs and disability programs for veterans.

House members voted to withhold funding on the DOD-VA integrated medical record project until both departments implement recommendations made by GAO earlier this year. It also provides:

  • * $6.2 billion for mental health services
  • * $5.8 billion for homeless veterans programs
  • * $35 million for continued research on the effects of PTSD and TBI
  • * $174 million for expansion of Arlington National Cemetery
  • * $1.1 billion for major and minor construction projects
  • * $1.7 billion for family and military personnel housing

To see how your representative voted, visit http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2012/roll305.xml.
For the committee press release and a list of amendments, go to http://appropriations.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=297903.

Veterans Participating in Clinical Research Protected by VA Office of Research Oversight

Are you considering volunteering in a research study?

Information and recommendations from ORO

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) ranks as one of the nation’s leaders in health research. Thousands of studies are conducted at VA medical centers, outpatient clinics, and nursing homes each year.  VA research has resulted in many health advancements.  For example, VA researchers:

Man Thinking as woman discusses something with him
  • developed artificial limbs that allow amputees more independence and a better quality of life
  • invented the cardiac pacemaker
  • performed the first successful liver transplantation
  • played a major role in the development of the CT (or CAT) scan to view the inside of the body
  • tested new drugs and treatments for diseases as AIDS, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and osteoporosis
  • developed the nicotine patch to help people stop smoking.

If you decide to participate in an approved VA research study you need to understand some of the basic requirements for good research.  Take the time to review the Basic Research Requirements  and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions  provided here and discuss them with people you trust. ORO hopes that this information will help you reach a knowledgeable and informed decision that will be in the best interest of both you the participant/Veteran and the VA.

Other VA Research Resources

VA Research Today
A magazine created to commemorate the 85th anniversary of VA Research

Reading this magazine will help you gain perspective on how health issues affect Veterans and what VA is doing to advance health research. 

Office of Research and Development

This website will give you information about VA’s various research programs and a state by state listing of research centers, clinical trials, and other Veteran services throughout the country.

Free Educational Materials for Veterans Volunteering in Research 

If you are considering volunteering in a VA research study, be sure to order this free information material designed to help you understand the benefits of being in a research study as well as any risks or side effects.  It is important that you know what questions you should ask before you agree to take part in a research study and how VA will protect your rights and welfare as a research subject.

Telehealth: Connecting Veterans at Home with VA Nursing Staff through Videoconferencing

Veterans who are hundreds of miles away from the nearest VA hospital are now able to be “seen” by a VA physician without having to leave their home.  Thanks to modern technology, many different types of exams and clinic visits can be done using real-time videoconferencing, saving patients long drives and long waits.

Since 2003, the VA has been using a state-of-the-art technology known as Telehealth.   Use of this new-age service has resulted in more accessible healthcare for veterans everywhere.  VA healthcare providers are now able to see, hear, and talk to patients through a TV screen, while allowing the same privacy and clinical standards as patients visiting one of their facilities in person.

Each VA has a Telehealth Coordinator who collaborates with participating healthcare providers in setting up videoconferencing clinics so that specialist clinicians (like dermatologists or surgeons) can see a veteran patient living in a remote area.

General Telehealth (CCGT) improves access and visits to healthcare provders for veterans in rural or underserved areas.  By using video-conferencing technologies and diagnostic equipment, specialists from VA Medical Centers can treat patients in an outpatient clinic close to their home, avoiding travel and offering easier access to specialist care.

Home Telehealth (CCHT) is a service available to veteran patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, and mental illness.  Veterans with these illnesses can be monitored at home using telehealth technology, often delaying or preventing veterans from being admitted into long-term care facilities. This particular program provides services that include:

*Symptom management

*Vital sign monitoring

*Self-management

*Medication management & adherence

*Socialization and caregiver support

*Service coordination

For home telehealth, the type of home technology selected is individualized for each veteran, and a “Care Coordinator” is assigned to the patient.  The care coordinator is usually a registered nurse or social worker who manages patients with the technology to meet their complex medical and social needs.  This program helps keep veteran patients as independent as possible for as long as possible.

The cost of CCHT averages $1,600 per annum, and this has been compared with the $13,121 per annum for VHA’s home-based primary care service and $77,745 per annum for private nursing home care. Information on patient satisfaction with CCHT-based care is collected from patients every 3 months. Surveys in 2006 and 2007 found a mean satisfaction score of 86%.

Telehealth technologies are only one of several services that the VA provides at their PolyTrauma Rehab Centers located in Tampa FL, Minneapolis MN, Richmond VA, and Palo Alto CA.  These particular sites help improve access to care for combat wounded veterans who have multiple injuries by arranging for them to receive their care closer to home.

For more info contact:

Care Coordination Services (11CC), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue N.W., Washington DC 20420

http://www.telehealth.va.gov/
Read Related Article: The Veterans Health Administration’s CCHT Programme – mainstreamed home telehealth and care coordination

VA Personal Health Records Available Online for Veterans Registered with My HealtheVet

Veterans seeking or needing 24/7 anywhere, any time internet access to VA health care and military history information can find the web-based tools empowering them to do so through My Healthevet.

Launched in 2003, My Healthevet is VA’s award-winning online Personal Health Record offering America’s veterans access to trusted, secure, and informed health and benefits information at their convenience.

Veterans can register online to access their VA Personal Health Record including:

*VA Prescription Refills  *Lab & Appointments  *Military Health History

*Vitals Tracking & Graphing  *VA Benefits & Services  *Wellness Reminders

Register for Your VA Personal Health Record by:

<<<Clicking here:

Women Veterans Still Struggling for VA Healthcare in U.S.

Women are the fastest growing segment of the United States Armed Forces.  Although many Americans have acknowledged the trend, others are either unaware, unprepared, or unwilling to accept the emergence of women into this typically male-dominated field of expertise.

Regardless of public awareness, opinion, or acceptance, female veterans have earned the right to VA Healthcare Benefits.  Unfortunately, after 7 years of research and studies, the VA Health Care System is still struggling to provide adequate care for women in approximately 30% of their facilities across the U.S.

Excerpt from August 16, 2011 blog post by Veterans Today:

“Our strong interest in women Veterans’ health stems from our combined clinical and research experience caring for women within the VA Health Care System. Here, women have been a historical and numerical minority with specific challenges in obtaining comprehensive care (general primary care, gynecologic or reproductive care, and mental health care).  We believe challenges to women Veterans’ health and health care can be addressed through creative, thoughtful solutions that in are in turn based on several factors.

First, whether women Veterans are seeking general primary care or mental health services, their health care preferences must be taken into consideration. Even issues that don’t seem important—such as whether a woman can see a female provider or, if needed, go to a separate women’s clinic—can have a tremendous impact on health outcomes. In some cases, such matters may make the difference between whether or not a female Veteran receives the care she needs.

Second, improving women’s care requires we first understand how VA care for women Veterans is currently organized. Over two-thirds of VA medical centers have women’s clinics, and most of the rest have designated a women’s health provider to see women Veteran patients. As researchers, it is our job to identify and study anything that stands in the way of a woman Veteran getting the best care possible!

Third, we are concerned about issues related to helping women Veterans continue a care program and sustain good health. For example, has the patient been assigned a primary care provider and/or nurse case manager? Does the patient live near a comprehensive women’s health center? Will there be follow up via telephone, Internet, or group visits? Can the patient receive timely appointments for preventive health care, such as mammography, or cholesterol screening and management?

These are a just a few of the issues we think about everyday as we work to improve access and delivery of care for women Veterans. You can imagine, then, our excitement when a national health care journal—Women’s Health Issues—recently chose to showcase VA-sponsored research in a special supplement of articles and commentaries! Titled “Health and Health Care of Women Veterans and Women in the Military:  Research Informing Evidence-based Practice and Policy,” the supplement not only shows the tremendous growth and diversity of VA women’s health research in recent years, it also exemplifies the many ways the VA is working to integrate research findings into patient care, and, of course, affirms the priority status given women across the Department.”