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Jennifer Perez

Can the Veteran’s Independence Plus (VIP) Program Help You?

Jen Perez is North Shore Elder Services’ (NSES) Care Manager for the Veteran’s Independence Plus (VIP) program; a program that is Veteran- directed and one that offers valuable benefits to Veterans. Jen would love to see this program grow. Although there may currently be limited funding from the Veteran Affairs for this program and only a certain amount of slots available, establishing a waitlist of eligible Veterans would demonstrate the need for the program and thus potential additional funding.

  1. What is Veteran-Directed Care under the VIP program?

The VIP program is a partnership between the Department of Veteran Affairs and local Massachusetts Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs), like North Shore Elder Services.

The program offers eligible Veterans of all ages, with all types of disabilities, who are at risk of nursing home placement, the opportunity to self-direct their own care.

  1. How does a Veteran become eligible?

The Veteran must be enrolled in the VA (Veterans Affairs) health care and must have a primary care provider at either the Bedford or Boston VA. Both the Boston and Bedford VA have a social worker assigned to the VIP program. They are the ones who complete the VA assessments and determine eligibility.

  1. How is a Veteran referred to the program?

Once the Veteran is determined eligible, the VA submits a referral to the Information and Referral department of the appropriate-based ASAP (based upon the town of residence).

Once Jen gets a referral, she calls the Veteran and arranges a time to meet the Veteran and complete the required paperwork.

The Veteran may already be receiving home care services through NSES or the Veteran may in fact not be service connected. Either situation works for the VIP program. “One of the great things about this program is that the Veteran can be enrolled in both Home Care and the VIP program. Essentially the Veteran could receive up to $900 in our enhanced program (ECOP)AND the $2,000 they are allotted in the VIP program.”

Referrals to the program can come from VA providers, caregivers, community providers (like the ASAPs), or the Veteran themselves.

It is important to know that everything starts with the Veteran being enrolled in the VA. Anyone can call Jen for information or call directly to the VA.

The Veteran may call 877-222-8387 or enroll through VA  ebenefits online at www.ebenefits.va.gov 

  1. What role does the Veteran play in the VIP program?

The Veteran is the employer and is responsible to recruit, hire, schedule, train, and fire workers. The veteran works with the Care Manager from the ASAP in developing a flexible monthly service plan. They can purchase goods and services to meet their needs to remain safely in their homes. The Veteran determines the hourly wage their support workers are paid within specified guidelines.

If the Veteran is physically or cognitively unable to manage the program, the Veteran must have a surrogate assigned to manage the program. The surrogate may not be paid as one of the workers however.

The number of weekly hours of care is determined by the budget amount, chosen hourly rate, and other services purchased within the monthly service plan. The primary utilization of funds must be for personal care support workers.

As Care Manager, Jen will discuss the tasks the Veteran needs help with and assist in developing the service plan.

  1. What type of work can the support workers do?

The worker completes activities of daily living (ADL) such as bathing, grooming, and dressing as well as instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) such as cleaning, cooking, shopping, or any services the Veteran needs to remain in their home.

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If you or someone you know might be a candidate for the VIP program, you can call the Veterans Affairs office directly 877-222-8387. The more we can spread the word about this benefit to our Veterans, the better for everyone. Find further information at the VAs website; https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-department-of-veterans-services

In conjunction with Veterans’ Day this month of November, North Shore Elder Services will welcome a very special guest speaker for our 2018 Annual Meeting – Secretary for the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services, Francisco A. Ureña!

Governor Charlie Baker swore in Francisco A. Ureña as Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Services on February 6, 2015. Secretary Ureña is committed to helping veterans live with dignity, honor, and independence; and ensures that the department and its initiatives focus on those goals.

The Annual Meeting takes place on Wednesday, November 28 from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM at the Mayor Jean A. Levesque Community Life Center (Salem Council on Aging), 401 Bridge St. Salem, MA.

The event is free but registration is necessary. You can register at:  https://secure.qgiv.com/for/2am/event/795028/

Author Info

Jayne Girodat

Jayne Girodat is the Communications Specialist at North Shore Elder Services. Along with ten years in the position of Caregiver Support Specialist at another ASAP, Jayne was a long-distance caregiver to parents for the same amount of time. That experience serves as motivation to better understand the issues of aging and to engage people in conversations about those issues. Jayne's background in teaching contributes to her appreciation of social media as a tool to educate readers on aging concerns. "I love asking people questions. Everyone likes to be heard. When you ask and then listen, you'll find everyone has a story and some of those stories are gems. I think it is particularly important to hear the voices of our older adults. Those are the stories I really connect to and hope to bring to North Shore Elder Services' audience."

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