- The Department of Veterans' Affairs provides a range of entry level aged care services for veterans
- The Department can also help veterans with accessing higher level aged care
- An integral part of veteran aged care services is access to mental health support
There are a few aged care options for members of the veteran community, ranging from mental health support to care at home or in a nursing home, which are available through the Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).
Below we explain these options, what they can do for you and how to access them.
Home care for veterans can be provided through the DVA, or through My Aged Care, or a combination of both, so it is worth looking into what option will be better for you.
Higher levels of home care will likely be provided by My Aged Care rather than the DVA.
The DVA provides multiple in home and community support programs for older veterans to continue living at home independently while still having their health, wellbeing and socialisation supported.
The DVA can also help you to access:
- Information about home care services
- Help with household tasks
- Help with personal care
- Safety related home and garden maintenance
- Home nursing visits
- Aids and equipment
- Help to manage a chronic health condition
- Respite care
- Care away from home while you recover from an illness or injury
- Aged care resources
Many of these services are provided through Veterans’ Home Care, however the program only covers lower level needs and if you have higher level care needs it is likely you will need home care through an aged care Home Care Package, or you might look at a residential aged care facility.
To access Veterans’ Home Care, call the Assessment Agency on 1300 550 450 for an assessment for the services. The assessment is over the phone and the assessor will ask about your home situation to see what services you may benefit from.
After you have services in place providing home care, you will be reassessed every six to nine months.
Community nursing is another service which can be used by veterans to allow them to live independently for longer. Community nursing involves care for wounds and pressure sores, care at home following an injury, illness or surgery and other everyday tasks like showering, dressing, hygiene and personal care.
The DVA covers the cost of community nursing for veterans and the provider bills the DVA directly, so you don’t have to handle the costs at all.
To receive these services you need to be referred for an assessment from a health professional such as your GP, a hospital doctor or discharge planner, or Veteran Health Care Assessment Agency.
To give your carer a break, or to give you a break from caring for another person, the DVA will offer respite care either at home, in short term care arrangements with facilities like nursing homes or for emergency short term home relief if alternatives are not available.
Respite care is limited each year to 196 hours of in-home respite, 28 days of residential respite or 216 hours of emergency short term home relief.
Support in residential aged care
Residential aged care facilities provide high level care to all older people who need it, ranging from support to move around to meals, personal care and emergency assistance.
There is extra support available to veterans in all nursing homes and the cohort is considered a special needs group, due to the complexity of medical and mental health care which veterans might need.
In residential aged care, a Veterans’ Supplement to cover the cost of mental health services is paid directly to the nursing home, as long as you have provided consent to disclose your eligibility information to the provider. Payment is ongoing for the duration of the time you are in care.
The DVA has a guide for veterans and families on moving into aged care, which is available online or can be ordered in a hard copy.
If you or your family need support around the time you move into aged care, which can be a big change, the DVA has a service called Open Arms - Veterans and Families Counselling which you can call on 1800 011 046 at any time for free and confidential support.
Other supports and services
The Veterans’ Supplement is not only available to aged care residents and aims to improve access to mental health support for all veterans including those living in the community or in retirement villages.
The supplement can help with services for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), other anxiety disorders, depression or substance misuse disorders.
For veterans requiring care after a hospital visit, which can’t be provided at home, the DVA funds the cost of short term recovery care.
This is called convalescent care and to access it you can talk to a hospital discharge planner, your treating doctor, a social worker or a nurse.
If the recovery is done in a public or private hospital there is no limit on the number of days which care will be funded for and you don’t need approval for that care.
However, if your recovery care is to be provided in an Australian Government funded aged care facility, supported residential service or other institution you will need prior approval from the DVA and the care will only be funded for up to 21 days in the year.
Your GP or health professional can arrange for the DVA to pay for medical aids, equipment and home modifications you need, including items for:
- Monitoring diabetes
- Preventing falls - such as non-slip mats, lights and rails
- Low vision aids
- Speech and swallowing difficulties
- Oxygen and breathing machines
- Cognitive, dementia and memory assistive technology
- Personal emergency alarms
- Medical grade footwear
- Hearing appliances
- Assistance dogs
To have these aids and equipment funded, talk to your doctor and they will send a direct order form to a DVA supplier, then arrange for them to be delivered to you or installed in your home at no cost.
What services for veterans do you access? Tell us in the comments below.