Home Health Care Services

Veterans home care options seek to help former United States military servicemembers remain in their homes and communities.

Research continuously proves that individuals who are elderly or disabled are more likely to thrive when they have the opportunity to live in their own homes and communities instead of nursing homes or long-term skilled care facilities. Home health care for veterans can also be cost effective over time compared to institutionalization. In-home care can be provided by veterans’ families, by contracted professionals or by a combination of both.

VA home health care benefits pay for qualifying veterans to receive Skilled Home Health Care Services (SHHC) and Homemaker and Home Health Aide Services (H/HHA), as needed. VA benefits also include a network of educational, respite and support resources for families and other caregivers of elderly or disabled veterans. Its web of caregiver and home care programs promotes long-term health and safety for veterans and their caregivers.

Skilled Home Health Care (SHHC) Services

VA home care regulations define Skilled Home Health Care (SHHC) Services as medical care delivered in-home to homebound veterans. SHHC must be delivered by licensed medical personnel, but differs from VA Home-Based Primary Care in that the personnel are not employed the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans their caregivers can discuss what VA home care benefits they may qualify to receive with the veterans’ care teams or their regional caregiver support coordinators. Additional support and information is available via the VA’s Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274.

Related Article: Aid and Attendance and Housebound

Generally, veterans must be deemed homebound by their VA care teams to qualify for VA home health services. Veterans who live at a prohibitive distance from VA facilities may also be eligible. Common SHHC services include:

  • Medical care.
  • Case management.
  • Assistance with activities of daily living (such as bathing and dressing).
  • Assistance with instrumental activities of daily living (such as preparing food or taking medication).

VA home care benefits may cover SHHC for varying amounts of time, based on assessed veteran need. In some cases, it may be made available for short-term periods to veterans who would not otherwise qualify to alleviate an unexpected or temporary incidence of heavy burden to veterans’ normal caregivers.

Homemaker/Home Health Aide (H/HHA) Services

Homemaker/Home Health Aide (H/HHA) veterans home care services differ from SHHC in that the services provided are not medical in nature. They also do not include direct physical assistance with personal care tasks such as eating or dressing. Instead, H/HHA services are those supports which caregivers provide that allow veterans to remain in their homes as they age or when disabled past the point of being able to live independently.

The VA home health care program may authorize veterans to receive ongoing H/HHA services as way to avoid institutionalization. Alternatively, it may approve such care as a short-term measure to offer respite to veterans’ standard family caregivers.

H/HHA home health care for veterans may be delivered by professional contracted service providers. Most often, the spouses and families of elderly or disabled veterans provide care. Through the VA Family Caregivers Program, family caregivers may be eligible for health insurance, stipends, training, counseling and reimbursement for travel and lodging expenses associated with being a veteran caregiver.

Family caregivers have access to VA home care supports including:

  • The Caregiver Support Line. Veteran caregivers can reach out to VA experts for assistance in addressing challenges or answers to common questions. Responders provide support for both veterans’ health and caregivers’ physical, mental and emotional health needs.
  • Peer Support Mentoring. Caregivers are encouraged to participate in mentoring programs for at least six months. Participants communicate by phone, email and in writing, sharing encouragement, best practices and other relevant information.
  • Building Better Caregivers. A VA home health online workshop, BBC is designed to increase caregiver skill and confidence while relieving stress and preventing depression.
  • Caring for Post-9/11 Veterans. Under this program, family members providing veterans home care receive funding, insurance coverage and physical and emotional health services that enable them to better care for their veterans at home and when traveling to receive services.
  • REACH VA. Stress management and problem-solving education for caregivers of veterans with complicated or chronic conditions such as ALS, dementia, PTSD or spinal cord injuries.

Home-Based Primary and Telehealth Care

VA home health care options can include in-house primary medical care when location or physical conditions make it difficult or impossible for veterans to travel to VA facilities for care. Qualifying veterans may also be eligible to receive a variety of therapy and rehabilitation services in-house. Social work and mental and behavioral health care services may be delivered in-home, as well, where necessary.

The veterans home care telehealth service connects veterans to their care teams remotely. Monitoring equipment set up in veterans’ homes allows care teams to provide real-time check-ins, support and adjustments when needed. Telehealth equipment can give care team’s early warning of potential problems and facilitate communication and action when caregivers have concerns. VA home care telehealth programs may also use phone calls and computer-based apps, resources and programs to educate veterans, as well as deliver care to veterans and their caregivers.

VA Home Health Respite Care

Caregivers providing home health care for veterans may qualify for up to 30 days of VA-funded respite per year. Respite care occurs when veterans receive their usual home-based care from alternative providers, at VA community living centers, authorized community residential care facilities or adult day health care centers. Respite care allows VA home health caregivers time for rest and renewal. It promotes caregiver health and prevents burnout.

VA Home Health Hospice Care

At end of life, VA home health care may pay veterans to receive in-home hospice care. Hospice services are delivered 24 hours a day by interdisciplinary teams from local agencies contracted with the VA. Services include grief counseling and other supports for caregivers and family, as well as personal and medical care for the veterans.

Hospice care requests must be coordinated with the veterans’ care team. Requesting or accepting hospice services generally require that veterans forego previously provided forms of disease management and care.

Related Article: Eligibility for VA Disability Compensation

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