This Review is the second in a series of three papers produced by my Office that examines the provision of healthcare support services by Veterans Affairs Canada to our Veterans, family members, survivors and caregivers. To complement this paper, a Review on Veterans Affairs Canada’s Long-Term Care Program has been published. The third installment will be a full review of publicly and privately funded assisted living options for Veterans whose health status would enable them to benefit from such a model of shelter and care.
The Veterans Independence Program is one of the three pillars of Veterans Affairs Canada’s health and medical support programs, along with the Long-Term Care Program and the Health Benefits Program (Treatment Benefits). In fact, it is Veterans Affairs Canada’s flagship home and residential care program providing assistance to qualified Veterans, their survivors/primary caregivers and certain civilians, as defined in the Veterans Health Care Regulations, so they can maintain their health, quality of life, dignity and independence in their homes and residences for as long as possible.
While the program fills a need for eligible Veterans who wish to remain in their homes, it must be responsive to the issues that have been raised in this Review: eligibility, accessibility and cost factors of the program.
As it currently exists, the program employs a complex set of eligibility criteria and applies different eligibility rules to the various categories of eligible Veterans. These eligibility criteria must be reasonable in their application, not overly complex, and be open to revision when situations arise that make it clear that the existing criteria are outdated, unfair, or inappropriate given the circumstances.
Concerning cost, when taken on a per patient cost basis, the Review finds that the Veterans Independence Program provides excellent value for the services it delivers, and, at the same time, achieves its goal of keeping Veterans living independently and with dignity in their homes for as long as possible in a cost-effective manner.
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The Grant Determination Tool is, based on my understanding, a computer program where the VAC employee simply punches in numbers and the computer spits out "the allowable hours" for either housekeeping or grounds maintenance. I recently moved, with my partner, to a new "principal residence". Keep in mind that my partner, also a Veteran but NOT receiving any pension or benefits through VAC, is a Senior with various limiting medical conditions which make her incapable of performing the activities covered under VIP. In 2013, I was receiving a total annual grant of $9,310.34 - which consisted of $7,916.25 for housekeeping which included annual amounts of window washing -$250 and Non-routine housekeeping ( washing walls, ceilings, cleaning attics etc) $950. My weekly housekeeping was 10 hours just for the regular stuff. I was receiving grounds maintenance in the amount of $1,394.09. A few weeks ago I was obliged to do a "telephone survey" on my VIP needs - the great "Grant Determination Tool". The resulting "decision" - my housekeeping was decreased to an annual payment of $2,080 - and ONLY TWO HOURS A WEEK. My grounds keeping was totally denied on the basis that they say my "landlord" - partner - is responsible for the grounds maintenance. ABSOLUTLY RIDICULOUS - my partner is totally incapable for medical reasons and age to perform these tasks. Of particular note was the Veterans Independence Program Annual Follow--up form, which I received at my new residence in August 2014. Lest my benefits be cancelled I filled it in and mailed it back within the 30 day deadline. Of course I kept a copy. I answered YES to the following: I rely on the VIP services I receive to help me remain in my home and community; I require additional assistance to perform day-to-day tasks, such as: preparing meals, getting to appointments, running errands, shopping for groceries, everyday housework and routine grounds maintenance. Overall, the VIP services "I currently receive" - remember the $9,310.34 - meet my needs - again the answer was YES.
Bottom line - in mid-August 2014 -$9,310.34 was needed (as provided for these exact services in 2013) and 2 months later this "tool" decides (based on some "money saving formula" that I only need $2,080.00 - Go Figure. Is it possible that these financial savings - on the backs of Veterans - have contributed to the significant savings ( some 1.8 billion dollars since 2006) that VAC has returned to its political masters - the Conservatives - to help them balance their budget?
November 23, 2014 12:50 PM
Office of the Veterans Ombudsman
We are sorry to hear that your situation is difficult. Someone from the office will contact you to discuss this further and will do our best to assist you.
November 26, 2014 4:36 PM
Widow Now said:
If VIP is so great, why was the amount of my Groundskeeping Grant reduced following the death of my disabled veteran spouse? I am still disabled and the property is the same size and in the same location. The so-called "Grant Determination Tool", which is a piece of paper, with a scientific sounding name, is just another way for VAC to screw over bereaved survivors, just as they did when the veteran was alive. No change there, either. Ditto for the "Housekeeping" element of the VIP. Less than $35.00/week will not even clean the three bathrooms in my home. Forget the rest of the house.