Program to provide disabled veterans at-home care expands

Updated: Nov. 30, 2017 at 6:03 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A program to allow more disabled veterans to receive at-home care, as opposed to living in nursing homes or other facilities, is expanding throughout Richmond and the Hampton Roads area.

The Veteran-Directed Home and Community Based Services Program is funded through the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs. Richmond's McGuire VA Medical Center was one of the first VA hospitals in the country to begin allocating funds toward the program.

Now, the hospital is allowing an anticipated several hundred more veterans to take advantage of the funding. The Hampton Roads area will also be instituting on the VD-HCBS program.

VD-HCBS allows veterans and their families a wider range of options in who is hired to provide care, according to families enrolled in the initiative. In fact, families make the decision themselves on who they hire for services.

Air Force veteran David Rogers, 30, lost the ability to walk or speak after a severe vehicle accident on deployment in Germany, eight years ago. David's his mother Lauri Rogers says David is now living a sound life at home in Chesterfield, thanks to his trusted caretaker, Nadia.

"David is extremely comfortable with Nadia...He knows that she's going to take the best care of him," said Lauri Rogers.

However, this wasn't always the case. Lauri says going through outsourced agencies through other government programs for caretakers was often a disaster. Lauri says different caregivers would have trouble finding her home and often work limited hours, miss appointments, and just not be trained properly.

"They weren't allowed to do a lot of things for David that were part of his basic care, like give him food when he was tube fed," recalled Lauri. "They weren't allowed to give him his medication… We had one person fall asleep. My son was unable to wake her up when he needed to use the bathroom."

Now, VD-HCBS allows David and Lauri more power to make decisions and oversee who is providing care.

"I can hire. I can fire. I can train. I can make adjustments. I can set the hours. Those are not available through agency care," continued Rogers.

Acting U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Eric Hargan visited American Legion Post 175 in Mechanicsville on Thursday to talk about the program's expansion. Hargan also visited a veteran who receives at-home care through VD-HCBS, prior to the event.

"Up in Washington, you're seeing facts and figures … but to see [the program] in someone's life at home, was really moving," said Hargan.

Health Department officials say at-home care is one-third of the cost of a veteran living in a facility, and are pushing the "Veteran-Directed" program across the country. Currently, 95 VA medical centers across the nation still don't fund it, according to officials.

VD-HCBS has launched a new website and app for the program.

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