Community Caregiver Finds a Way to Give Back - VA North Texas Health Care System
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VA North Texas Health Care System

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Community Caregiver Finds a Way to Give Back

Veterans with their caregivers

Caregivers serve health care and emotional needs of Veterans.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day in and day out, more than 65 million family caregivers in this country fulfill a vital role to provide care to someone who cannot care for themselves. They have chosen to meet daily health care needs of a dependent child, elderly parent or other family member who has suffered a severe injury or are chronically ill versus committing them to a nursing home or managed care facility.

One of the ways VA North Texas Health Care System is working with family members and caregivers is the Medical Foster Home program. A medical foster home reaches the growing needs of the Veteran population and offers a safe, long-term, home-like environment and an economical housing alternative for Veterans who are unable to remain in their own homes because of health issues or family members who can no longer provide care.

The Medical Foster Home program finds caregivers in the community, like Ruth Williams, who are willing to take a Veteran into their home and provide 24-hour supervision and needed personal assistance. The expectation is that this is a long-term commitment, where the Veteran may live for the remainder of his or her life.  

With a mission of opening her heart to Veterans, Ms. Williams wanted a creative way to change careers and give back to her community. After hearing about the Medical Foster Home program, she thought this was a perfect way to honor Veterans who had fought for our freedom.

Ms. Williams converted part of her Dallas suburb home that had been used as a beauty shop and made the necessary adjustments to meet various needs for access, like wheelchair ramps, and enlarging door passages.

When she needs a respite herself, Ms. Williams depends on other caregivers who step in for needed breaks. She can also count on the VA program coordinator who makes unannounced visits to ensure all is well. Most importantly, the Veteran must be cared for and community caregivers like Ms. Williams should have all the support they need.

Realizing the need for a team effort, VA offers programs and services like Adult Day Health Care and respite to medical foster home caregivers so they can continue a partnership that is a win-win for the Veteran.

"Many Veterans live alone and independently for years through the support of assistive devices and home care services," said Cathy Cooley, Medical Foster Home program coordinator. "Eventually, though, the Veteran may decline to the point that it is no longer safe to live alone. Traditionally resolved by nursing home placement, the Medical Foster Home Program offers an alternative to that situation."

If you or someone you know is interested in receiving more information about medical foster home, please contact Cathy Cooley at 214-372-8841.

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