The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced it will provide nearly $4.7 million for “caregiver assistance pilot programs” to expand and improve health care education and provide needed training and resources for caregivers who assist disabled and aging veterans in their homes.
“This funding will enhance support and training for the family members and other caregivers who sacrifice to care for disabled and aging veterans,” said Acting VA Secretary Gordon H. Mansfield. “At VA, we’re committed to looking after caregivers who dedicate their own time and well-being to take care of loved ones who are veterans.”
The pilot programs will support eight caregiver projects across the country. In addition, VA provides support and assistance through a variety of programs such as care management, social work service, care coordination, geriatrics and extended care, and through its nationwide volunteer programs.
Among the key services provided to caregivers are transportation, respite care, case management and service coordination, assistance with personal care (bathing and grooming), social and emotional support, and home safety evaluations.
Education programs teach caregivers how to obtain community resources such as legal assistance, financial support, housing assistance, home delivered meals and spiritual support. In addition, caregivers are taught skills such as time management techniques, medication management, communication skills with the medical staff and the veteran, and ways to take better care of themselves.
Many of the projects use technology, including computers, Web-based training, video conferencing and teleconferencing to support the needs of caregivers who often cannot leave their homes to participate in support activities.
The VA pilot programs include:
- At the Memphis (Tenn.) and Palo Alto (Calif.) VA medical centers, a project will provide education, support and skills-building to help caregivers manage both patient behaviors and their own stress. This intervention will be provided in 14 Home-Based Primary Care (HBPC) programs across the country and also to caregivers in non-HBPC settings at the Palo Alto VAMC.
- At the VA medical center in Gainesville, Fla., caregivers will take part in a Transition Assistance Program to provide skills training, education and supportive problem solving using videophone technology.
- At the VA Healthcare System of Ohio, headquartered in Cincinnati, caregiver advocates will be available around the clock to coordinate between VA and community services.
- At the VA Desert Pacific Network and the VA Sierra Nevada Healthcare System, VA will work with a community coalition to provide education, skills training and resources for caregivers of veterans with traumatic brain injury using computer-based telehealth, including Web, telephone and videoconferencing.
- At the VA medical center in Albany, N.Y., a pilot project will convert a three-hour workshop developed by the National Family Caregivers Association called “Communicating Effectively with Health Care Professionals” into a cost-effective multimedia format.
- At the Atlanta VA Medical Center, use of computer-based technology will provide instrumental help and emotional support to caregivers who live in remote areas or to those who cannot leave a patient alone.
- The Tampa VA Medical Center and the Miami VA Healthcare System are working on a collaborative project. In the Tampa area, the current program will be expanded to provide 24-hour in-home respite care to temporarily relieve caregivers up to 14 days a year. In Miami, the program will coordinate comprehensive community-based care services, including respite, home companions, adult day care and use of emergency response system.
- The VA Pacific Islands Health Care System will use the “medical foster home” model of care, in which caregivers in the community take veterans into their homes and provide 24-hour supervision. This program will take place on the islands of Kauai, Hawaii, Maui and rural areas of Oahu.