Community Living Centers (VA Nursing Homes)

VA nursing homes are provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to older veterans who need to receive a greater level of care than they can get at home.

Community living center (CLC) is the term used for these nursing homes today. Unlike regular nursing homes or the nursing homes of the past, a CLC is meant to make a veteran feel more at home while offering high-quality care. In most cases, a VA community living center is meant to provide a temporary residence, but veterans may move into a CLC permanently in some cases.

These centers are designed to help veterans maintain or get back to their best quality of life while also preventing declines in health. While staying in a facility, veterans can receive all of the same care provided in a nursing home, such as help bathing, getting dressed and medical care. Below, learn more about the VA nursing home benefits and find out which veterans are qualified to receive care in a CLC.

What are the VA nursing home eligibility requirements?

Your VA CLC eligibility is based on two main factors: your clinical need for nursing home care and the availability of a CLC in your area. The most important requirement is that you must have a need for short-term or long-term care. To be considered for a VA CLC based on your medical needs, one of the following must apply:

While you may receive preferential placement if you meet one of the requirements above, the VA may still be able to get you into a CLC if there is space available and the center has the resources to treat you. In any case, you will only be eligible for a VA nursing home if you are enrolled in the VA health system and you are medically and mentally stable. Note that you are usually only eligible for services through the VA health system if you were discharged under any condition other than dishonorable.

Benefits of a VA Nursing Home

There are numerous VA CLC benefits that you will receive once you move into a center. Every community living center provides the following at a minimum:

  • Skilled nursing care 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Restorative care
  • Social work services
  • Geriatric care and evaluations

Some VA CLCs provide additional services such as respite care, mental health care and other recovery options. Centers may also provide special memory care for veterans who have cognitive defects or are living with dementia. Furthermore, a VA CLC may offer hospice as well as palliative care for veterans who need end-of-life services.

Related Article: How to Apply for VA Disability

In addition to providing basic medical necessities from skilled nurses, veterans in a CLC can receive help with activities of daily life, such as getting ready in the morning, bathing or changing clothes. VA nursing homes are also family-friendly centers that provide activities for veterans as well as their families. CLCs are designed to feel like home, meaning that residents can decorate their rooms and even have pets visit or stay with them in the center.

How to Decide if a VA CLC is Right for You

There are many nursing homes in communities throughout the U.S., but these facilities may not always meet your needs. If you are a veteran, a CLC may be your best option when you need additional help with your daily cares or medical needs. The VA provides a decision-making worksheet that you and your caregiver can fill out when considering your options. Ultimately, the choice can be made by you, along with your caregiver, social worker and health care team. When deciding whether a community living center is right for you, consider the following:

  • The level of assistance you need with daily cares
  • How much support your caregiver can provide
  • The level of privacy and independence that you need
  • Whether you would benefit from having more social interactions
  • The amount of care that you are able to afford on a monthly basis

Considering the VA community living center locations is also important when making your decision. There are more than 130 CLCs throughout the country that you can choose from, which makes it possible to find a facility that is close to your family in many cases.

VA Nursing Home Application Process

If you would like to live in a VA community living center, it is necessary to submit an application called VA Form 10-10EC (Application for Extended Care Benefits). You may contact your VA social worker or case manager to obtain a copy of this application. Alternatively, you can find a copy of this form on the VA website, which you can print and fill out. Note that this form is used for multiple purposes, so it is important to select the correct program when applying.

The community living center application includes a variety of information about you. Be prepared to enter the following details on your form:

  • Basic information such as your name and Social Security Number (SSN).
  • Your health insurance information, including details on your Medicaid or Medicare enrollment, if applicable.
  • The name, SSN and other details of your spouse and/or dependents, if applicable.
  • Your income and assets, as well as expenses for basic necessities such as your mortgage, groceries and utilities.

Paying for Care in a Community Living Center

Based on the financial information in your application, as well as your disability status, you may be charged a copay in order to receive services from a CLC. You will learn the amount of your copay after submitting the application form.

You may be able to pay for your VA nursing home benefits through your health insurance, such as Medicaid or Medicare. Private funds and other types of insurance may help cover your expenses as well. When you apply, note that you must sign a section that states you agree to cover the cost of any copayments that may be charged for services. Unfortunately, your application may be denied if your insurance, personal funds or other sources of income will not cover the cost of your care in a CLC.

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