What social services for widow of veteran are available? Does it include home health care?

4 answers | Last updated: Aug 07, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

What assistance for veterans widows is available? My mother is a veteran's widow, is homebound and depends on Medicare-Medicaid for her home health aide. Our experiences over the years have not been positive. What are her rights in choosing a health aide that will do the job? And what are our rights if the agency keeps sending horrible health aides?

One year we went through about twenty aides in less than six months before finding one we could only tolerate. Help.... I just demanded that one be removed last week because my mother was afraid to tell her she was having chest pains and the health aide would never take her out to walk, nor would she share information with her relief health aide or myself. This health aide basically did very little and napped more than my ma. I want to keep this from happening again.…but we don't pay for this service. What kind of rights do we have, how much of a say-so in selection before anyone is assigned to my mother?

Expert Answers

Nan Hayes is founder of MoveSeniors.com, the national resource network of Certified Relocation and Transition Specialists for seniors, and President of RightSized Living, a senior home transition service in Illinois.

Finding just the right person to assist our parents can sometimes be difficult. Since your mother’s home health care is covered by Medicare, you may reference the  list of patient rights listed on the Medicare website.

To file a complaint about a specific agency, click on the “Important information” tab and follow the “Helpful Contacts” links to obtain the phone number for your State Survey Agency.  Readers may also use the tools on this site to find out information about an agency they are considering. Keep in mind though, only Medicare-approved agencies are required to report information, so you will not see others listed on the site.
Your experience with different agencies at this stage should make it easier to outline your expectations with the next agency. To avoid future disappointments, seek to  understand if the agency is able to provide all the services you are looking for before they begin. If regular walks are part of  rehabilitation, that is something that needs to be covered with the agency and the aid up front.  

To help improve your next experience, you may want to spend extra time with the aide on their first visit and carefully outline your expectations and schedules. Also, make sure your mother is comfortable telling the aide about her concerns or if she is not feeling well.  Leaving notes  for the aide  each visit and taking a few moments to talk with the aide at the end of visits may also help keep the lines of communication open. By taking steps like these, you can create a more positive outcome and experience for your mother.

Community Answers

Merrily orsini answered...

Just because you are not paying for services does not mean that services should not meet industry standards. Following a care plan, being attentive to needs and helping your mother feel safe and secure in her situation are all standards that an agency aide should meet.
Your question states that you are using Medicare-Medicaid for services. These are actually two different programs. Medicare is usually time limited and specific to an acute incident. Medicaid services, however, are usually set based on need, and a specific number of hours is recommended and provided.
To go through 20 aides is troubling, however, and tells me that there are other issues present.

I would suggest having someone from the agency trouble shoot with you as to how to better meet your mother's needs. Items that might cause problems with staffing are scheduling (perhaps you can be more flexible in request), distance (is the location accessible by public transport; if not perhaps assistance in getting the aide there would help), conditions in the home (the environment must be somewhat comfortable and compatible to the aide as well: is it too hot, stuffy? excessively cluttered? are there pets? does your mother smoke?). Determining what is the cause of the difficulty and working with your mother and the agency to solve that might assist in alleviating the problem, and get the consistency improved.

Samiam answered...

 There is a little known veteran's benefit from the VA called Aid & Assistance. There is a small arsenal of items that you need to provide to obtain it, but it's a relatively simple process.

If approved, she may receive up to $950 per month. This money would be helpful to give her more options for home health or other assistance she may need.

Valorie1 answered...