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Home Care for Veterans

Home care is non-medical care provided at home. It is often the first type of care that a senior veteran will need. With home care, aging veterans can remain self-sufficient for as long as possible in a familiar and comfortable environment. It is an alternative to living in care facilities like assisted living or board and care homes.

Types of Home Care

Seniors with chronic health conditions, disabilities or cognitive impairments often need assistance from another person to continue living at home. In-home care typically includes help with activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), as well as companionship.

Daily living activities are basic tasks that most people can complete without help, such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting and transferring. Instrumental activities of daily living are more complex, such as medication management, household chores and meal preparation. Home care is provided by caregivers such as family members, personal care aids and home health aides.

Home Health Care

Home care and home health care are two different types of care.  Home health care refers to various medical services that are often needed following hospitalization or a stay in a rehabilitation or skilled nursing facility. The care is usually short-term such as wound care, administering medications, medical testing and health monitoring, injections and various therapies. Home health care is provided by licensed health care professionals such as registered nurses (RN), licensed practical nurses (LPN), licensed vocational nurses (LVN) and physical therapists.

Long-Term Home Nursing Care

Complex health conditions such as Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy can require long-term home medical assistance. The care is provided private duty RNs, LPNs or LVNs. Private duty nurses help clients with ventilators, gastronomy tubes, tracheotomy care, catheter care, respiratory treatments, injections and medication administration.

In-Home Care for Veterans

When a veteran needs in-home care, the help they require usually comes from family caregivers, personal care aides or home health aides.

Family Home Caregivers

Most home care is provided by unpaid family caregivers. According to a recent study, a majority (59%) of family caregivers will help their loved one with at least one activity of daily living. The most common ADL is transferring – getting in and out of beds and chairs. Other types of assistance include transportation (78%), grocery and other shopping (76%) or house work (72%). On average, a family caregiver will provide 24.4 hours a week of care to a loved one (AARP: 2015 Caregiving in the United Sates).

Personal Care Aides

Personal care aides, also called home care aides, provide assistance with daily living activities, hygiene, meal preparation, shopping, washing dishes, light cleaning, laundry and running errands. They do not provide medical care. There are no licensing requirements for personal care aides. Most are trained on-the-job. The average pay for a personal care aid ranges from $10 to $15 per hour.

Home Health Aides

A home health aide helps people with daily living activities (ADLs and IADLs). In some states, a home health aide can also provide basic medical care, such as checking vital signs, changing dressings and administering medication. Most home health aides are supervised by licensed medical professionals such as nurses. They often have formal training, especially if they work for a home health agency. The national median hourly rate for a home health aid is $20.

How To Hire A Caregiver

There are many factors to consider when hiring a home caregiver, including the tasks that need to be performed (personal care, housekeeping, driving, etc.). Start the interview process once you’ve established a job description. Find out about the person’s training and work experience. Ask for references and contact former employers. A background check is also important.

When you find a caregiver that meets your needs, make sure there is a written contract in place that covers their duties, responsibilities, compensation, benefits, handling of personal information and termination.

Caregivers can often be found online through registries (lists of available caregivers) or home care agencies. Other ways to locate a caregiver include networking with family and friends.

Finding Your Own Caregiver

One of the benefits of hiring your own caregiver is the control you have over their duties, hours and rate of pay. Having back-up care will be important, in case the caregiver cannot make it to work. You will also need to screen applicants.

Using a Home Care Agency

Home care agencies will screen applicants and provide training for their employees as needed. Some agencies are state licensed. An agency will also handle employment related issues such as payroll and taxes.  When contacting an agency, find out if you can meet the caregiver before starting the service. Other things to check:

  • Is the caregiver bonded and insured?
  • Are there a minimum number of hours per shift?
  • Will there be backup coverage if the caregiver is unable to work?
  • Can you call the agency at any time, including evenings and weekends?
  • Will the agency write a care plan?

Paying for Home Care

Home care is often paid for out-of-pocket. Sometimes a long-term care insurance policy will cover the cost of a home caregiver. Other ways to pay for care include government programs like Medicaid and VA benefits. Medicare does not pay for personal care or homemaker services.

Medicaid provides some home care services for applicants who meet their income and asset criteria. Eligibility requirements and availability of care varies by state.

Veteran home care benefits include various VA health care system services, and a long-term care pension called Aid & Attendance.

Veterans enrolled in the VA health care system may be eligible for home care, such as homemaker (personal care aide) or home health aide. To qualify, the veteran must have a medical need for the service. A co-pay may be charged based on the veteran’s service-connected disability status.

Aid & Attendance is a tax-free benefit for veterans and their surviving spouses that helps pay for a home caregiver or care facility. The maximum benefit amount is $2,846 per month ($34,152 per year). Home care can be provided by a family member, friend, personal care aid or home health aide. Eligibility requirements include needing help with some of the activities of daily living.

If you’d like to find out more about how Aid & Attendance can pay for home care, call us today at 877-427-8065 and ask to speak to a benefit consultant.

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