Tips for Receiving VA Benefits You Might Not Know About
Your experience with the VA might be easier, but a friend of mine has been frustrated to tears several times while trying to find out what the VA would do for her almost-95-year-old father as he progressively needed more care. Initially, he lived with his 91-year-old wife, who also has progressively lost the ability to care for him. My friend was able to get coverage for home health care to come in and shower and dress her dad 3 days a week, and for physical therapy off and on, but she was told that he didn’t qualify for “long-term care” (the term she used), which his wife desperately needed him to have. When a stroke qualified him for admission to the VA hospital, he was evaluated onsite, and over several weeks qualified first for VA rehab and then for “end-of-life contract” (room and board paid for by the VA) and hospice (paid for by Medicare). He will be evaluated again after 6 months.
Dakota Travel Nurse Home Care (DTNHC) is eligible to accept VA Benefits. Veterans who meet the clinical need for home care services provided by DTNHC can now apply for VA Benefits to cover them. In order to qualify, vets must be enrolled in the VA and have a VA provider who they see at least once a year. A copay may be charged based on your VA service-connected disability status.
Following a referral from the VA, a registered nurse makes a home visit to determine the level of care required and the frequency of visits recommended for each service. The RN will also develop a written plan of care. C.N.A.s (Certified Nursing Assistants) provide personal care and assistance with activities of daily living. Therapies are provided by licensed therapists. Live-in care is also available for qualified vets. (See our blog and our website for a complete list of services available to vets.)
Making arrangements with DTNHC may be the easy part. Knowing who talk to at the VA and the right questions to ask is the hard part for many vets and caregivers. Sometimes it seems like the VA has a language of its own, and if you don’t know their word for the type of care you think you or your loved-one needs, you may not be given alternatives to what you asked for. At least, that was my friend’s experience. She started with a VA Social Worker, but it wasn’t until someone told her about the Patient Advocacy Program and she contacted them that she was steered in the right direction.
Your loved one’s VA treatment team can include his doctor, nurse, social worker, dietitian, pharmacist, chaplain, therapist and other professionals associated with his medical care. If you feel your concerns are not being addressed by the treatment team, you may contact a VA Patient Advocate. A Patient Advocate is a VA employee who is specifically designated at each VA facility to manage the feedback received from veterans, family members and friends. Patient Advocates work directly with management and employees to facilitate resolutions. They can “translate” the words you are using—in-home care, assisted living, long-term care, hospice—into “VA-speak,” like: VA HealthVet System, respite stay, rehab, residential homes program, medical foster care homes, end-of-life contract and hospice. While you may be told by your Social Worker that your loved one does not qualify for the care you are asking about, your Patient Advocate may be able to tell you about qualifying alternatives.
Some types of care are fully paid for by the VA. Others require that the patient contribute all VA pension and Social Security income to the care, in addition to costs those sources don’t cover. Be sure to ask what will be covered with the type of care you are seeking. Medicaid may help to make up the difference, but you will have to apply for that. Your loved one might have to be evaluated repeatedly to determine what care he qualifies for. For example, after a 4-day hospital stay, he could qualify for 20 days of rehab—or up to 100, if he is making measurable progress.
Care for Veterans with Alzheimer’s or dementia is provided throughout the full range of VA health care services. Depending on the Veteran’s needs, services may include home-based primary care, homemaker and home health aide, respite, adult day health care, outpatient clinic, inpatient hospital, nursing home, or hospice care. Caregiver support is an essential part of all of these services.
The website for the U.S, Department of Veterans Affairs, contains helpful information regarding Home and Community Based Services, as well as testimonials as to the benefits of home care. Another good source of information is http://www.elderlawanswers.com/long-term-care-benefits-for-veterans-and-surviving-spouses-6158
DTNHC Admissions Coordinator/Case Manager and RN, Michele Meske, states that “We want to provide veterans in ND with skilled, reliable, individualized, compassionate home care to enhance their quality of life and well-being. If you or anyone you know qualifies for VA benefits and has a need for PT/OT/ST, CNA care, or other home healthcare services, please contact Dakota Travel Nurse Home Care at 701-663-5373.