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Is a VA Nursing Home Right for Your Loved One?




When your loved one grows old, you face questions about his or her care. If he or she is eligible, you may consider moving your family member into a VA (Veterans Affairs) nursing home.

To help you make this decision, we have provided some information concerning how the VA nursing home system works and how an individual can find more information about VA nursing homes in Illinois. We also discuss what you can do if you suspect that your loved one is being neglected or abused while living in a VA nursing home.

How Does the Veterans Affairs’ Nursing Home System Work?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) supports adult family homes, assisted living facilities, community living centers, community nursing homes and state veterans’ homes, which provide adult day care and nursing home care. VA nursing home eligibility is based on a veteran’s status, availability of beds and medical needs.

While you must be a veteran to be admitted to some state veterans’ homes, others extend eligibility to veterans’ spouses as well. However, VA payments – payments from the VA to help defer costs of nursing home care – will not pay for non-veterans’ care.

Not everyone is eligible for veterans’ benefits nursing home care. A person is eligible to receive payments for nursing home care only if he or she is a veteran who:

  • Has a service-connected disability or
  • Is rated 60 percent SC (service-connected) and unemployable or
  • Is rated 60 percent SC and is permanently and totally disabled.
  • Has a combined SC disability rating of 70 percent or more.

For more information, you should check out the publication put out by the VA, Do VA Benefits Cover Nursing Home Care?

Keep in mind that the VA will cover nursing home costs only in the event that the veteran seeks care from a VA-contracted nursing home. Nursing homes that do not participate in the VA contract program are not covered under VA benefits.

You can find a list of state veterans’ homes in Illinois by visiting NASVH.org.

Each state has its own admission criteria and application process. A VA nursing home application for Illinois-based care facilities is available through the Department of Veterans Affairs Central Office and Field Office or by applying in person.

How Can You Find Information About VA Nursing Homes?

Choosing to put your loved one in a nursing home is a difficult enough decision. What can be even more challenging is choosing the right nursing home for your loved one.

The VA advocates for shared decision making, or a process that involves making a “collaborative, patient-centered decision that assists veterans in assessing their health-related needs, setting priorities and making choices that achieve their goals.”

Throughout the shared decision making process, loved ones, family, medical providers, caregivers, social workers and care coordinators should all be involved.

Some things to consider before admitting your loved one into a VA nursing home include:

  • Availability – Whether your loved one can be admitted into a nursing home may depend on bed availability. Many states, including Illinois, have waiting lists for admission.
  • Location – This should be a top priority. Even though you are moving your loved one into a VA nursing home, it is important that you see him or her regularly and check in. When you visit, it helps your loved one to make the transition to a new home. It also allows you to make sure that your loved one is getting the care that he or she needs and deserves.
  • Malpractice – The possibility of a government-run medical facility committing malpractice is something that most people think nothing about. Unfortunately, malpractice is a problem in VA-sponsored nursing homes and other assisted living facilities.

Some good sources of information about nursing homes and state veterans’ homes include:

What Can You Do If Your Elderly Loved One Is Abused or Neglected in a VA Nursing Home?

Detecting abuse or neglect can be challenging to do. Some signs to look for include:

  • Any physical changes to your loved one such as losing weight, bruises or cuts, scars or burns or general decline in physical health
  • Emotional and psychological changes of abuse, including depression, anxiety, fear about being in the nursing home, angry outbursts or withdrawal.

In some cases, the abuse is not just physical or emotional. It may be financial instead. If you notice major changes to your loved one’s finances, it may be a sign of financial abuse.

If you believe that abuse or neglect is occurring in a VA nursing home, it is important that you report it immediately. You can report it to the Illinois Department of Public Health or to the Illinois Department on Aging.

It is also possible to contact an abuse hotline that has been designed to report abuse of those with a developmental disability or mental disability. To do so, contact the Illinois Department of Human Services at (800) 368-1463. If you believe that your loved one is in immediate danger, you should call the police.

Work With an Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Attorney

VA nursing homes can be a great resource to those in need of long-term and 24/7 care. However, assisted living facilities for veterans are not without problems. Abuse and neglect is possible.

If you have questions about VA nursing home abuse and what your legal rights are following abuse or neglect of your loved one, contact the experienced team at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. for a free case consultation.