For older veterans who can’t remain in their homes and who don’t want to move to a nursing home, there’s a growing alternative: medical foster homes. Since 1999, an increasing number of VA hospitals around the country have reached out to homeowners in their communities, seeking people who are willing to provide live-in care for vets who need personalized care and a strong sense of community. If you or someone you care about needs help with care and wants a home setting, read on to see if VA Medical Foster Home Care might work for you.
Who’s eligible for the VA Medical Foster Home program?
Veterans who cannot safely manage their health and activities of daily living on their own may qualify for medical foster care. In order to participate, veterans must be enrolled in VA Home Based Primary Care, because those physician-managed home care services will continue in the foster home.
It’s important to know that the Medical Foster Home program is only available in areas where the local VA hospital has started a program and foster-home caregivers have been approved. There are programs at roughly half the VA’s medical centers now, and the goal is for each VA hospital to have an MFH program eventually.
Who operates the homes?
Caregivers must have some experience in providing care, and they have to be willing to be available 24/7 (with backup caregivers on call as needed). Medical needs and casework are handled by VA Home Based Primary Care workers, but meals, social time, shopping, and help with medication and activities of daily living are all handled by the homeowner-caregiver.
Caregivers include retirees, widowed seniors, couples, and families with small children. Some caregivers host more than one veteran—each local program has guidelines about how many veterans can receive foster care in one home—and they all offer vets a sense of family and community.
Who coordinates placements?
Placements are coordinated through the VA, which also inspects and approves the homes and offers supplemental training for caregivers. In some places, such as Michigan, caregivers must also meet the state’s Adult Foster Home licensing requirements in order to take part in the VA MFH program. Doctors and caseworkers factor in the type of care each veteran needs and what each host family can provide when making placements.
Who pays for Medical Foster Home services?
Veterans are responsible for paying the cost of Medical Foster Home room and board directly to their caregiver. Typical rates range from $1500 to $3000 per month, and the exact figure is worked out in advance by patient and caregiver. Long-term care insurance, VA Aid & Attendance Pension benefits, and other benefit programs may help cover the cost of the Medical Foster Home program.
Contact your local VA medical center to find out if MFH is available in your area. If so, VA caseworkers can help you decide if medical foster care is a good alternative for you or someone you love.
What about the Aid and Attendance Benefit?
The Aid and Attendance pension benefit can also help veterans and their spouses pay for care. It is a little known benefit, but could save a veteran and/or spouse $2000+ a month on care. Please find out if you are eligible and educate yourself on how to apply.
Written by: Casey Kelly-Barton