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Medical Foster Home Coordinator Amie Panicacci, Caregiver Charlotte with veteran Sheila

"I love this program! I enjoy being able to give back!"

The idea started in 1999 with two social workers from the Little Rock VA who were looking for alternatives for veterans who were unsafe living in their homes. The veterans were suffering from frequent falls, unable to provide for their basic self-care needs and they were unwilling to receive care within a nursing home facility.
The MFH Program was piloted in 2004 in Tampa Florida and San Juan Puerto Rico VA Hospitals.  The study revealed a dramatic decrease in falls and a reduction in hospital admissions.

There are now 520 participating Medical Foster Homes across the country. The VA Medical Foster Home provides individualized care in a private home environment. Once a veteran is admitted into the Medical Foster Home Program, they have the luxury of receiving in home medical care by the VA’s Home-Based Primary Care Team (HBPC) comprised of physicians, nurses/case managers, physical therapists, pharmacists, social workers, and other health care providers.  Medical Foster Home Caregivers provide 24-hour care while maintaining a safe, therapeutic, home environment with the aim at improving quality of life.

Charlotte Matos and Lucy Rodriguez are caregivers in the Medical Foster Home program at the Boise VA in Idaho. Charlotte worked in a nursing care facility before deciding to do independent care out of her home. “I love this program! I enjoy being able to give back.” Since 2015, Charlotte Matos has provided personalized care for veterans in the Medical Foster Home program. Charlotte has enabled her resident veterans to be part of the community by structuring outings and other recreational activities such as camping, fishing, road trips, and dining out to name a few all while encouraging as much independence as possible in self-care skills. “The therapists and doctors work with you and open possibilities within the home for more mobility, adaptation techniques and lots of good ideas, “says Charlotte. 
Veterans who need a higher level of care due to complex, chronic, disabling conditions and are appropriate to live with a caregiver in a home like environment may be considered for a Medical Foster Home. Medical Foster Home is an alternative to a skilled nursing facility while maintaining a family setting. “I love caregiving because I like taking care of and advocating for people, especially the most vulnerable. I find it rewarding in many ways but knowing that I am needed is most rewarding of all” says Lucy Rodriguez. “I like living in a VA Medical Foster Home because I’m fed well, all my medical needs are met, and we’re offered recreation such as fishing excursions.  I also experience a sense of independence in being able to come and go to visit friends, go to a movie, and occasionally enjoy dinner out with friends” said Navy Veteran Richard.

The option for Medical Foster Home placement can be less expensive than some assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Many veterans qualify for Compensation and Pension as well as Aid and Attendance through the VA. This financial assistance coupled with Social Security income can be used to afford a Medical Foster Home placement.

“I am so glad I tried this program. I am a lot happier now because I can do the things I like to do.” said veteran Sheila.
- Amie Panicacci, LCSW
Medical Foster Home Program Coordinator

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