Salisbury VA Health Care System seeks applicants for medical foster home caregiving

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, February 15, 2023

SALISBURY — The Salisbury VA Health Care System is seeking applicants for the Medical Foster Home program, which identifies caregivers in the community who are willing to bring veterans into their home and provide 24/7 care.

The VA had already started this program in 2013, but is now expecting an increase in demand after President Biden signed into law H.R. 2617, also known as the “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023.” The bill increases funds for medical foster homes and the caregivers who are looking after the veterans.

Currently, there is one medical foster home operating in Rowan County and it serves two veterans. The foster homes offer veterans non-institutional, long-term and supportive care when they are unable to live independently but prefer to reside in a family setting.

Anna Whisenant, the VA’s medical foster home coordinator, said she is always looking for caregivers and for veterans who would prefer a medical foster home. She is hoping funds from the bill will  increase awareness for those interested.

“I am always out there seeking caregivers,” Whisenant said.

A caregiver doesn’t necessarily need a medical background although many do. You just have to have some sort of caregiving experience in your own home, such as having cared for someone in their later years or someone who has experienced health issues.

Caregivers include couples, families with small children, retirees and widowed seniors. Caseworkers and doctors factor in the type of care each veteran needs, so caregivers know what to expect.

The application process to become a caregiver can take as short as two months, Whisenant said. It starts with visiting those interested, explaining the program and making sure they understand the commitment of 24/7 caregiving.

“There is an application phase, which I give people about a month to complete because there are various things not only to fill out, but also items to gather,” Whisenant said. “After that there is an inspection process from various disciplines at the VA, all of which are looking at it from a different perspective to make sure the home is set up and appropriate to ensure proper care to our veterans.”

Once the inspection is complete, all that is needed is approval from the VA director.

“That’s really what we want: to be able to have a number of more homes to be available for our veterans,” Whisenant said.