Posted by Mark Hallett
Serving Those Who Have Served Us
What if you’re one of the many Americans that cannot return home following a medical event because you’re unable to care for your self any longer? Your unable to climb stairs, get in and out of the bathtub, or simply get dressed each morning. Unfortunately, as we begin to age this is the reality for many. Your health begins to decline and your ability to be independent with essential daily tasks becomes more difficult. More frequently children are becoming caretakers to their parents and grandparents, or are forced to find placement in a long-term care facility to keep there loved ones safe.
Those families that have the resources to pay for adaptations to their home, adaptive equipment to increase independence with bathing and dressing tasks, and durable medical equipment to increase mobility and safety are able to assist loved ones to age in place and sustain a greater quality of life within the comfort of their home. The sad reality is that many families lack these resources. When financial resources are limited it’s imperative for our staff to turn to the various community agencies that exist for help.
Our in house rehabilitation staff and social services department are well educated on the various community resources that exist in the state of Rhode Island and often we turn to them to help our residents and short-term patients towards achieving successful patient outcomes. One of the resources we frequently utilize is the Providence Veterans Administration Medical Center (PVAMC). Unlike typical insurance companies, the VA healthcare system is prepared to help veterans in a variety of ways.
Two of our full time therapists here at West View have had the opportunity to complete fulltime internships at the Providence VA. During that time they were able to gain a greater understanding of the various services provided by the VA and the chance to network with other VA healthcare professionals. Navigating the VA system can sometimes be a daunting task for veterans and their caregivers alike. At West View we don’t claim to be experts in all of the services provided by the VA, but like many of the community resources here in RI, we strive to gain a better understanding of how to access and utilize them effectively to improve the lives of our patients.
During the initial evaluation process we interview each new patient that arrives at our facility for either short-term rehab or long term care. Our goal during this evaluation is to gain a good social history and learn as much about the individual as possible. This helps us individualize that patient’s plan of care and set meaningful and realistic goals that are important to the patient and their family. One of the questions we often ask is if the patient is a veteran and if they’re currently enrolled at the Providence VA.
If the new patient is enrolled at the VA and has been seen by their primary care physician at the VA within the past 2 years they are typically eligible for services that non-veteran patient’s don’t have access to. In recent months we been able to successfully order items such as; tub transfer benches, shower chairs, custom manual wheelchairs, Guardian 911 emergency alert buttons, long handle shoe horns and adaptive feeding equipment to name a few.
Another service provided by the VA is the Home improvements and Structural Alterations Grant (HISA). The HISA Grant is a service in which the VA will provide up to $6800 to each qualifying veteran to make improvements or adaptations to their home. This may include adding a new handrail to get up and down the stairs safely, repaving an aging and uneven walkway to your front door or turning your bathtub into a walk-in shower to reduce the risk for falls during bathing tasks. The application process for a HISA Grant can take time and be confusing, however we can help get you started in the right direction.
Stairs are a difficult obstacle for many of our patients to navigate and at times some people are unable to return to their prior level of functioning, making it difficult and unsafe for them to ascend and descend stairs alone. One solution to this is by adding a ramp to the front of your house making it easier and safer to get in and out of the home, especially when a wheelchair is the safest option for mobility. This is a service provided by the VA for qualifying veterans. What about the stairs inside the house? If there are stairs in your house that lead to a second floor full bathroom then the VA may provide a stair lift for you to access the bathroom for bathing tasks. The VA recognizes that bathing and toileting are essential daily tasks and will consider the approval of a stair lift for the veteran when no other options exist.
Often our patients have difficulty getting in and out of bed. Or they have difficulty breathing when laying flat on their back during periods of rest. The VA has a program that provides fully adjustable hospital style beds for qualifying veterans. If approved, the VA will deliver the hospital bed, set it up and service the bed should any of the parts require servicing. The use of a hospital bed can reduce caregiver burden as well as the risk for injury and increase independence within the home.
The ordering process for equipment through the VA is determined on a case-by-case basis. Larger more expensive items will require approval by a special medical review board at the VA. Proper written justification greatly improves the chance of approval and the staff at Wet View Nursing and Rehabilitation is highly skilled in this area, as evidenced by many successfully processed equipment requests.
These are only a few of the ways that the VA can provide assistance to you or your loved one. At West View Nursing and Rehabilitation we strive to provide the highest level of care to each and every patient that comes to our facility. We do this by using all available resources and treating our patients the way they deserved to be treated. We take great pride in helping those individuals that have helped carry the burden of freedom for our country and we look forward to assisting local veterans during life’s most challenging moments.
About the Author
Mark Hallett is an Occupational Therapist with West View Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
About West View Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
West View Nursing & Rehabilitation Center is a 120-bed skilled nursing facility providing long-term care and rehabilitation services located in West Warwick, Rhode Island. At West View, our commitment is to treat every resident with the respect and dignity that he or she deserves, and to involve them and their family in the development and implementation of their care plan in order to maximize positive results.