VA's Medical Foster Home Program Offers an Alternative to a Nursing Home

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Happy senior man in nursing home

Did you know the Department of Veterans Affairs offers medical foster homes as care alternatives to veterans who need regular nursing care but aren't interested in moving into a nursing home and don't have a family member who can care for them?

The VA's Medical Foster Home program can be an alternative to a nursing home for many veterans. It is appropriate for veterans who need nursing home-level care but prefer a non-institutional setting with fewer residents.

Medical foster homes must have a trained caregiver on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The caregivers, who live on the premises, are trained annually by the VA and state/local jurisdictions and must be licensed by the state. They also must pass background checks. The home itself is inspected annually by the VA and, depending on the location, by state and local authorities.

Usually one to three veterans live in each foster home. Other patients may reside in the homes as well.

For the veteran, each home provides:

  • Furnished private/semi-private rooms
  • 24/7 supervision
  • Meals, laundry and cleaning
  • Assistance with personal care (dressing, grooming, bathing, etc.)
  • Medication management
  • Companionship with caregivers and other residents
  • Flexibility in daily routine, usually unavailable in an institution
  • Several safeguards against abuse
  • In some cases, the ability to have a pet

Some medical care is provided on the premises by VA caregivers; many homes also offer free transportation to VA medical facilities, as well as social and other outings.

Medical foster homes aren't provided or paid for by the VA; however, the department will help locate a home and get the veteran into it.

The monthly cost is based on income and the level of medical care required, but the VA says that care in a medical foster home runs about $1,500 to $3,000 monthly. This can be substantially cheaper than a nursing home, which can run as high as $10,000 monthly.

The VA doesn't pay any of the costs of medical foster home care. Most veterans can manage to pay for their care with a combination of their VA compensation, Social Security, insurance and savings. There are also other state and federal programs that may help.

To be eligible for a medical foster home, you need to be enrolled in VA Home Based Primary Care, and a home needs to be available. The program isn't available nationwide yet, but it is expanding. A VA social worker or case manager can help you with eligibility guidelines for Home Based Primary Care and locate medical foster home care. Call your local VA office or hospital for more information.

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Veterans Health Care