Northport VA Medical Center
Ask The Expert – Caregiver Support Program
Brandi M Carney, LCSW, is Northport VA Medical Center’s Caregiver Support Program Coordinator. She has been serving veterans at Northport for 14 years, and works closely with patients and staff in the combat veteran care program, primary care clinics, Emergency Room, and inpatient units.
What is the New Caregiver Support Program?
In 2010, President Obama signed Public Law 111-163, “Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, which required VA to establish a program that offers comprehensive assistance to “family caregivers” of post 9/11 honorably discharged veterans and “general caregivers “ for veterans of all eras. VA recognizes that the first line of support in keeping veterans well cared for is partnering with their caregivers, who help manage medications, appointments, household tasks, activities of daily living (ADLs: bathing, dressing, grooming), provide transportation, socialization, emotional support, and act as advocates for the Veteran in times of need. VA is committed to providing needed support to Veterans and their caregivers and this new legislation expands the agency’s authority to meet their needs.
What services are provided:
“General Caregivers” are provided support, training, and referrals to VA and community services (home health aides, skilled nursing homecare, respite, adult day health care, home based primary care, contracted nursing facilities, support groups, eligibility and benefits).
“Family Caregivers” are provided the same support as well as guidance and coordination during the stipend/healthcare application process. Core training, as well as travel and lodging costs (if required) during training sessions and Veterans’ appointments, are additional benefits. If the Veteran and their caregiver successfully complete the application process, monthly stipend checks will be awarded along with healthcare benefits if needed.
Who is Eligible?
Veterans of all eras are eligible for support, referrals for in-home supports, resources, training, and regular follow up under the “General Caregivers” program. A veteran with a line-of-duty injury incurred or exacerbated on or after 9/11 may be eligible for “Family Caregiver Benefits.” These include the benefits outlined under the “General Family Caregiver” benefits section and, in addition, may qualify for a monthly stipend and healthcare benefits based on activity of daily living deficits and care giving needs.
How does one apply?
Applying for either program can be done in person at Northport VA Medical Center, over the phone by contacting the Veteran’s assigned Social Worker at 631-261-4400, ext 7029, through the internet at http://www.caregiver.va.gov/, or by calling VA’s Caregiver Support Line @ 1-855-260-3274, Monday through Friday, 8am to 11pm, and Saturdays 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.