July 28, 2017

What you need to know about the changes to the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers

What you need to know about the changes to the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers

Starting in April of 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs suspended revocations initiated by VA medical centers based on eligibility for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC), in order to conduct an internal review that would evaluate the consistency of the program nationwide. The VA conducted this review with input from hundreds of stakeholders, including nonprofits like the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, as well as caregivers across the nation.

The VA has now completed their review and has announced that it will reinstate full operation of the program. Based on their review, the VA has made significant changes to the program that will affect policy and execution moving forward.

Here are four things you need to know about the changes to the PCAFC:

1) Veterans Health Administration Directive (VHA) 1152: VHA Directive 1152 was issued to all PCAFC staff and posted to the US. Department of Veterans Affairs website. This directive will serve as VA policy ensuring consistent execution of the PCAFC, and will be applied uniformly across all VISNs. The directive outlines:

  • Program operations and staff responsibilities;
  • Veteran and caregiver eligibility requirements;
  • Procedures for discharges from the program, and available benefits.

Highlight from the text: “Family caregivers in the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers are to be recognized as collaborative partners with the Veteran’s primary care team in ensuring the overall care and well-being of the Veteran.”

2) PCAFC Discharge Letter:  The VA has developed a template discharge letter to be used when communicating program discharges to veterans and their caregivers. This letter will ensure a consistent message is sent to those veterans discharged from the program, while also providing plain language explanations for the reason behind the revocation.

Highlight: the discharge letter now includes space for the CSC to list local resources that may help caregivers as they transition out of the program.

3) PCAFC Roles, Responsibilities, and Requirements: The VA has updated its Roles, Responsibilities, and Requirements document that will be used in the execution of the PCAFC. This document, posted on the VA website, has been reviewed by the VA’s Privacy Office, VA’s National Center for Health Care Ethics and VA’s Office of General Counsel to ensure its compliance with current regulations. This version of the Roles, Responsibilities, and Requirements document will be used VISN-wide to maintain consistency across the program, and caregivers will have the opportunity to walk through the document with their CSC upon entry into the program.

Highlight: Your CSC is there to explain any parts of the application process or Roles, Responsibilities, and Requirements document with you. If you have further questions about your eligibility and want to talk to an outside provider, we encourage you to contact your local VSO, who can walk you through all your options.

4) If you would like more information on actions that the VA has taken to review the PCAFC, please refer to the Strategic Review overview developed by the VA. If you have questions about your case or eligibility status in the PCAFC, we encourage you to contact your Caregiver Support Coordinator, local VSO, or to email the Foundation.

Thank you for entrusting your stories regarding your experiences with the VA Caregiver Program to the Foundation. We will continue to advocate on behalf of military caregivers nationwide, and we welcome comments, questions, or concerns you would like to share with us. If you have questions, please email info@elizabethdolefoundation.org.

If you are a caregiver to a veteran who served prior to September 11, 2001, we encourage you to visit www.hiddenheroes.org to learn more about what we’re doing to advocate on behalf of pre-9/11 caregivers.