Medical Foster Homes - An Alternative to Nursing Homes - VA North Texas Health Care System
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Medical Foster Homes - An Alternative to Nursing Homes

Caregiver in a medical foster home providing a comfortable environment for a Veteran.
Friday, July 13, 2012

Many Veterans are enjoying an alternative to nursing home care through the VA Medical Foster Home program, and a family home environment is the key attraction. Medical foster homes are private homes where a trained caregiver provides services to individuals and can serve as an alternative to nursing home placement. It may be appropriate for Veterans who require nursing home care, but prefer a non-institutional setting with fewer residents or an option for family members selecting a long-term care alternative for the Veteran in their family.

Medical foster homes have been a popular choice for Veterans who are responsible for paying the caregiver. It is a personalized setting in a home environment, yet caregivers receive a lot of clinical support from VA to help maintain the Veteran's care.


Medical foster homes give Veterans a chance to receive long-term health care in the private homes of caregivers.


A trained caregiver is on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help the Veteran carry out activities of daily living such as bathing and getting dressed. VA inspects and approves all medical foster homes and ensures that the caregiver is well trained to provide VA planned care.

"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 at Dallas VA Medical Center.  But, when the Veteran declines to the point that it is no longer safe to live alone, the Medical Foster Home program offers a welcomed alternative to traditional nursing home placement.

Safety is paramount, and VA has a strong system in place for caregiver selection and oversight in medical foster homes. Satisfaction among Veterans is very high, and the expectation is that this is a long-term commitment where the Veteran may live for the remainder of his or her life. 

Caregivers are paid based upon the level of care needed, ranging from someone with dementia with some dependence in activities of daily living to someone who is incontinent, bed-bound and needs to be turned every four hours.

Criteria for caregivers in a medical foster home are:

  • Over the age of 21
  • Own or rent a home and live there with the Veteran(s)
  • Read, write and speak English
  • Complete a criminal background check
  • Certified in first aid and CPR or willing to become certified
  • Allow a VA interdisciplinary treatment team into the home for monthly visits
  • Willing to accept, participate in and follow the Veteran's treatment plan

If you or someone you know are interested in receiving more information about the Medical Foster Home program as a caregiver for a Veteran, please contact Cathy Cooley at (214) 372-8841 or Brad Booth at (214) 372-8840.

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