An unusual option is becoming available for veterans needing continual care and support. Rather than going to nursing homes, some now have the option to be put into a foster home. The VA’s Medical Foster Program provides veterans a home environment in which to age and receive the care they need.
The program offers our country’s heroes the care and attention they deserve. In a nursing home the staff may be overworked, underpaid, and inconsistent (caregivers come and go). In a medical foster home, the interactions are consistent; the same few people are almost always there and they only have a few residents under their care. The purpose of the program is to provide better treatment, but the side effects are pretty wonderful. Veterans get to be part of a family, supported by the communities they served to protect. Many of the participating patients suffer from memory impairment; a consistent home environment is more comforting and familiar in the long run. Another happy benefit is that the cost of care is about half that of a nursing home. Veterans do pay to be in these homes, but it is generally less than a traditional nursing home and those in the program find it money well spent.
Families who apply to foster a veteran in their home have to meet certain requirements and show they can meet the needs of people placed with them. They are interviewed, their backgrounds are checked, and the home is inspected to ensure the patient will receive quality care. The expectations on the families are daunting – they are providing 24/7 care to 1-3 individuals with varying medical needs. The VA provides training and thoroughly “vets” potential participants ahead of time.
The program costs about $260,000 a year to set up in a new area; the VA covers the first two years of expenses and then the location must support itself. The VA does not pay for the program or provide homes, but a VA case manager can help qualifying veterans enroll and look for an available space. Check out the US Department of Veteran Affairs for more information. Currently the Medical Foster Home Program operates in 36 states and is continually expanding. The goal is to eventually have it operational at every VA medical center in the country.
Amanda Dean is an expert in senior care with almost two decades of experience. After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in Human Development, Amanda was selected for the highly coveted role at NYU Langone Medical Center as a Geriatric Case Manager. She then founded and ran the largest independent local senior care advisory in NY for 12. Amanda joined Silver Living as the Senior Editor in 2012.