Virginia AAA Enables Veterans to Thrive Independently within Own Homes

Independence…it’s something we have all been striving for since childhood. “I can do it by myself.” “I don’t need any help.” We may have spoken these words as children or listened as these words were spoken by our aging parents. As our circumstances change and we become less independent, that desire for independence remains with us. Bay Aging’s VD-HCBS program allows that desire to become a reality for our honored heroes who have often sacrificed their independence serving our country. The VD-HCBS is open to all veterans who are at risk of being placed in a nursing home regardless of age or income. When enrolled in the program, veterans control their health care by working with a certified options counselor to custom build a spending plan that is designed to meet their specific needs. Bay Aging provides financial management services to veterans enrolled in the program. The veteran or their authorized representative becomes a household employer and hires employees to meet the needs identified in the spending plan. Bay Aging currently partners with Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center, Hampton VA Medical Center, Peninsula Agency on Aging, and Eastern Shore Area Agency on Aging/Community Action Agency to provide this service to veterans throughout the state of Virginia and in eastern North Carolina.

Many of the veterans enrolled in the program and their caregivers express great satisfaction. Our Patient Satisfaction Survey results consistently exceed 95 percent each quarter. Recently, one of our veterans stated,

“I am very pleased with the Bay Aging Veterans program as it allows me a quality of life I would not have otherwise. With many health issues, it is impossible for me to do the things I need to do and to do things I enjoy without help. With this program, I hired an aide to stay in my home. I do not want to go into a nursing home. I learned a lot from my options counselor about how the program works and what is covered under the VA program. Before this program, I was buying my own equipment and that was hard for me. Through this program, much of the equipment I need is covered by the VA. Bay Aging worked with me to get a wheelchair, personal emergency response unit and an additional budget. I feel like I am really cared for and that someone truly has my best interest at heart. I am very grateful for this program and cannot imagine being without it.”

In November 2017, Bay Aging’s VD-HCBS program received national attention during a showcase featuring Acting Health & Human Services Eric Hargan; Dr. Lynda Davis, Chief Veterans Experience Officer, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and a panel consisting of three veterans receiving services through the program. The veteran testimonials had a great impact on showcase attendees. Mildred Hayes, wife of U.S. Marine Corps veteran Burton Hayes, noted that “Being able to be at home means so much to him and to us…he’s still able to enjoy so much with family and friends.” Jill Underriter, U.S. Army veteran, stated, “It’s better because you get to hire somebody trustworthy, someone you know…the hours are a lot better than what you got (with agency care). I really think they should make this program national.” Lauri Rogers, mother of David Rogers, U.S. Air Force veteran, stated, “The Vet Directed Program…utilizes 87 percent of the funds for the direct care of David. I’m able to hire whomever David and I are comfortable with and train them for David’s specific care needs.” Acting Secretary Hargan also made an in-home visit with Robert Masse, a VD-HCBS veteran and his employee, Carolyn Davis, to experience the program in action. A video featuring the home visit was posted on the White House Facebook page.

The goal of the VD-HCBS program is to put veterans in the driver’s seat. We work to restore independence on the individual level. For more information on Bay Aging’s VD-HCBS program or questions about how to start providing this service in your area, contact Melissa Blake with Bay Aging at 804-758-2386 ext. 1219.