4 VA Programs You Didn’t Know Existed
Many of us are familiar with veterans who recieve medical care through the VA system; including getting prescriptions filled, having routine visits for chronic medical conditions and maybe even getting treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. But the VA offers many other little-known programs that are helping vets who are willing to do a little extra research and, yes, (sometimes) fill out a few more forms.
The Geriatrics and Extended Care Services (GEC)
The Mission of the GEC Services is to honor veterans’ preferences for health, independence and well-being in the face of aging, disability or illness by advancing expertise, programs and partnerships.
The Geriatrics and Extended Care website serves as a comprehensive resource for aging veterans and their families along with the VA providers and staff who serve them. The content is primarily designed for those in the VA system, but it is also a value to the larger community. The programs focus on facilitating veteran independence, enhancing quality of life and supporting family members and caregivers of veterans.
The services focus on veterans with chronic conditions, life-limiting illness, frailty or disability. There are four categories of Long Term Services and Supports that the GEC helps with:
- Home and Community-Based Care
- Residential Settings
- Nursing Homes
- Geriatric Services
VA’s National Center for Patient Safety (NCPS)
This VA program’s goal is the nationwide reduction and prevention of inadvertent harm to patients as a result of their care. Since its founding, the NCPS has:
- Contributed to an 82 percent decrease in deaths from suicide in VA inpatient mental health.
- Helped reduce major fall-related injuries by 5% per month since 2012.
- Fostered a strong culture of safety throughout the Veterans Health Administration.
- Created a five-step process for ensuring correct surgery, including a timeout for safety before an invasive procedure or operation.
The NCPS uses three primary tools as they work with veterans. These tools are the Daily Plan, Fall Reduction Toolkit, and the Moderate Sedation Toolkit.
- The Daily Plan, used with patients who are in the hospital, enhances patient safety by involving patients in their care by using a single document that outlines what can be expected on a specific day of hospitalization.
- The Fall Reduction Toolkit is designed to aid facilities in developing a comprehensive falls prevention program.
- The Moderate Sedation Toolkit is an intensive 9-component process designed to assist VA facilities in assuring that the practice of moderate sedation is reliable and safe. The NCPS has also developed a Moderate Sedation Toolkit for Non-Anesthesiologists, based upon work done at the Durham VAMC Patient Safety Center of Inquiry.
For more information on these and other programs of the NCPS, check out their website.
You can now process your prescription refill requests, track your prescriptions and communicate through secure messaging – all on Vets.gov. To do so you must register for a Vets.gov account and have a My HealtheVet premium account. To get started, go to Vets.gov and click on “Explore benefits” or read more about My HealtheVet here.
VA research on treating Pressure Ulcers
Pressure ulcers (commonly known as bed sores) are one of the most troublesome and painful complications for patients during a long hospital stay or a stay in rehab or skilled nursing. There is a joint project between the VA Center for Innovation and General Electric (GE) Global Research that may one day make pressure ulcers a thing of the past.
A multi-disciplinary team of scientists have combined an array of sensing and analytical tools, including motion analysis, thermal profiling, image classification/segmentation, 3-D object reconstruction and vapor detection into a single medical sensing handheld probe to assess and monitor the progression of bed sores or pressure ulcers.
The device is currently in pilot testing at the VA Medical Center Spinal Cord Injury Unit in Augusta, Ga. The probe integrates multiple sensing capabilities with analytics and user support features to more acutely measure pressure ulcer formation and/or to determine if an ulcer is healing.
There’s plenty more going on at the VA, including programs for smoking cessation, wandering reduction and much more. If you need help accessing the VA, Cariloop members can post a note to their Coach in their case file, or you can contact us via email or phone. We’re here to help.
By Julie Coats, LBSW, CCM