A pilot program in New Jersey to provide in-home services for veterans is expanding nationally. The community-based program funded by the Veterans Administration gives vets money to pay friends, neighbors or relatives to act as their caregivers.
The program, called the Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services program, also contributes money toward retrofitting homes to make them wheelchair accessible, or funding in-home nursing visits.
Cynthia Voorhees, with the Somerset County Office on Aging and Disability Services, said having the money to hire in-home aides can bring freedom to caregivers such as the wife of one veteran in the program.
“She told us that she is no longer sentenced to her house,” Voorhees said. “She can get out alone, the two of them can get out together.”
And Voorhees says the arrangements are much cheaper than a nursing home.
“The dollars stretch much farther than if they had to go through an institutional provider,” she said. “Institutional care would cost $60,000 to $80,000 a year, and this program is really run on much less, under S30,000 a year.”
The program also provides a financial services provider to keep track of payments for care.
Bob Hornyak, with the U.S. Administration on Aging, said the program is part of a larger effort to allow people to more closely control their own care as they age.
“Older adults, as well as younger people with disabilities, veterans of all ages, have certainly made it very clear that they want to receive their services in their homes in their communities and remain as independent as long as possible,” Hornyak said.
The program began last year in Michigan and New Jersey. According to the U.S. Department on Aging, it now exists in 14 states. Twenty-one states, including Pennsylvania, are now developing programs. The Pennsylvania Department on Aging says there’s no time frame yet for when similar services might begin to be offered in the Commonwealth.