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Nursing home alternative popular with Arkansas Veterans

Ft. Smith MFH

Medical Foster Home program in over 500 homes across America

In 1999, two Little Rock VA social workers started a unique program to tackle the problem where too many Veterans were suffering falls at home requiring repeated hospital stays. This out-of-the-box solution became a viable substitute for nursing homes.

Rolled out at several VA hospitals, the results showed far fewer hospital admissions and a dramatic decrease in falls.

Today the VA Medical Foster Home Program has about 520 participating homes across the country. It’s a flexible alternative for Veterans with chronic disabling conditions who are no longer able to live alone in their own homes. They provide 24-hour care from a caregiver and medical care from a specialized interdisciplinary VA health care team.

Pam Toney is a caregiver in the Medical Foster Home Program at Fayetteville VA in Arkansas. Once a caregiver for her Veteran spouse, Toney transitioned into fostering children in her home for 11 years, offering a stable and safe environment. For the past three years, she has welcomed Veterans who are no longer able to live alone into her home.

“My way to thank them for their service.”

“I enjoy giving back to these Veterans. This is my way to thank them for their service. This way they can live out the remainder of their years in a family-like setting with me and my daughter,” Toney said.

Pictured above, social worker Angela Loggains checks in with Medical Foster Home Program Caregiver Pam Toney and Army Veteran William.

Toney’s two sisters live next door and provide relief when she needs time-off.

Under the program, each Veteran and caregiver has a VA support team that includes a primary care physician, nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, dietician and program coordinator who regularly come to the home. Doctors typically visit annually, nurses about every 4 to 6 weeks and coordinators drop by unannounced monthly.

Veterans who are homebound, willing to participate in services, have served in the military during a wartime period, and have one or more physical, cognitive or emotional conditions are eligible for the Medical Foster Home Program. Participating Veterans have shown improvement socially, emotionally, physically and experience fewer falls and emergency room visits.

Less expensive than most assisted living facilities and nursing homes, Veterans first visit a potential home prior to placement so both the Veteran and caregiver can determine a good fit. The initial visit is followed by a longer one to ensure the Veteran likes the home and the caregiver feels comfortable caring for the needs of the Veteran.

“I really enjoy living with Pam,” said Army Veteran William, Toney’s current resident. “She and her daughter take really good care of me.”

If you are interested in becoming a Medical Foster Home caregiver:

  • You must own or rent your home
  • Undergo a background check
  • Health screening and annual inspections
  • CPR and First Aid certified
  • Have a driver’s license
  • Meet ADA requirements to ensure the safety of your home’s occupants.

For more information, visit VA’s Medical Fosters Home website.

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