A program from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that not only provides in-home care to veterans but support for their caregivers as well could revolutionize healthcare, says a recent blog post from The Hill.
The VA’s Caregiver Support Program is having far-reaching effects Iraq and Afghanistan veterans living with physical and mental injuries, as it takes the fight for improving vets’ and their family’s lives into the home, writes retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Keith Bartley.
“Having caregiver support coordinators visit the home per program guidelines is an absolute necessity for success,” Bartley writes.
The VA provides incentives, benefits, training and services with the coordinators monitoring and engaging with veterans and their caregivers to obtain better outcomes. For the most part, coordinators have been clinical social workers, however, there has been a push to add registered nurses with mental health backgrounds into the fray as well.
“This combination is what the military would call a force multiplier, adding a tremendous capability working on the front lines (homes), not only providing caregivers with direct engagement, but triage assessment for the veteran’s physical and mental health needs as well,” writes Bartley.
From in-home visits, caregiver support coordinators can assist primary care and mental health providers who are using new methods of care delivery, such as telehealth, and can also enable cost-effective ways to implement patient outcomes and overall effectiveness of VA programs, Bartley adds.
Barriers remain, however, particularly regarding the VA’s bureaucracy, prompting the need for resources to be extended for the Caregiver Support Program, especially as home care in general continues to experience rising demand.
“VA leaders cannot sit on the sidelines while their coordinators drown with the overwhelming increase in workload,” Bartley urges. “Coupled with the inability of the VA to adjust manning quickly is the fundamental leadership failure of not being able to deal effectively with negligent employees.”
Since its inception in 2010, the Caregiver Support Program has already been in existence long enough to track meaningful data related to veterans and their care in the home, Bartley says, however, forward thinking for the program must continue if it stands a chance at revolutionizing healthcare for veterans.
“Congress needs to understand that the VA has some great visionary thinking going on…new thinking that can have revolutionary consequences for the health of veterans and their families,” Bartley writes. “This new thinking is being executed by some highly dedicated employees that need servant leadership they have not been getting.”
Read more at The Hill.
Written by Jason Oliva