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Veterans are often in need of services to help them remain independent at home.  Unfortunately, the Veterans Administration system can be overwhelming and hard to navigate for our veterans in need of assistance. Often I see veterans who haven’t been connected to any benefits but are eligible.  Due to the complex formulas the VA uses to determine if a veteran qualifies, I cannot always tell someone during my visit that they will qualify, but I can direct and advocate for them.


Veterans that I see at home are often using their Medicare benefit for home care.  This means the veteran has to see a physician that is contracted through Medicare.  These are your non-VA doctors.  Many times, veterans see both a VA doctor and a primary care physician or specialist outside of the VA healthcare system.  If a veteran is seeing a Medicare contracted doctor and has skilled needs which would include needs for a registered nurse, therapy, and/or social work then that doctor can order home care under their Medicare benefit.


If a veteran is established with the VA healthcare system and regularly sees a VA doctor, the veteran can request to be evaluated for home care through the VA.  These services range from nursing visits, homemaker services, CNAs for bathing assistance, respite for a caregiver, and, at times, physical therapy.  The VA can also order equipment that may be needed for a person to function at home.  If a veteran is not established within the VA healthcare system, they cannot receive VA home care services.  This doesn’t mean they couldn’t get established, but they do need to go through the process before they would know if they are eligible for home care services.  


Medicare has specific criteria for home care services and it is not available long term.  Home care through Medicare can be very prompt in starting, but is often only for a short period of time.  This can get the veteran assistance quickly while we work on the long term needs that the VA can hopefully provide for after the Medicare certification runs out.  


For veterans that need assistance and don’t have a Medicare-contracted doctor to order home care, I would suggest contacting the VA and speaking with a social worker to get direction on enrolling in the VA healthcare system.


Western Illinois Home Health Care is Medicare certified for home care and is also contracted with the VA for home care services.  This makes our services seamless from one to the other for home care needs.  Our nurses are trained to assist in the care of veterans with physical and mental health related needs and we also have a social worker available for advocacy on social needs and services.  If you are a veteran or know a veteran who is in need of home care services, please call us at 800-228-5993.  


Amanda Powell, BSW is a Senior Care Manager for Western Illinois Home Health Care


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Home Care and Veterans

January 2016

by Amanda Powell