America is Getting Older – How is VA Responding?
The VA “has your six” – a military term that means I’ve got your back*. Indeed, the VA has got the back of every Veteran who receives care at VA. Each one has a primary care provider, and that provider has a whole team working with them.
This team model of care is called PACT (Patient Aligned Care Team) and it provides continuous and coordinated care throughout a patient’s lifetime. Veterans receive primary care in PACT clinics, so you may know them by color names, like silver, or military alphabet names, like Bravo.
The fastest growing age group of Veterans VA serves is those age 65 and older. By 2017 almost 10 million of our 21.7 million Veterans (46%) will be over 65. VA is responding with PACT teams customized for older Veterans.
GeriPACTS – Customized Care for Older Veterans
A GeriPACT (Geriatric Patient Aligned Care Team) is a PACT team designed for our older and chronically ill Veterans – those who have complicated health problems made even more challenging by social factors and mental health issues. Watch this GeriPACT video to learn more.
The Veteran is at the center of his or her GeriPACT, which includes an “army” of health care providers from many disciplines.
The Veteran’s GeriPACT includes an “army” of health care providers.Shared Decision Making for Long Term Services and Supports
Experts in the care of older adults – like the GeriPACT team – work together with Veterans to identify challenges that may be barriers to health, independence and quality of life. They ensure that Veterans and their families/caregivers are aware of and connected to the services and supports they need to maintain the Veteran’s independence and quality of life. This shared decision making process helps Veterans decide about the kinds of services and supports, such as Home and Community Based Services, that would best meet their needs and preferences, now and in the future.
Visit www.va.gov/Geriatrics for more information on Shared Decision Making and Long Term Services and Supports.
Veterans Benefit from Shared Decisions and a Team Approach
Mr. Hastings, an Army Vietnam Veteran in Kentucky, explains, “Lori Paris, a social worker, visited me in the community hospital and talked with me about the full range of programs the VA had to offer and told me about what was available in my community. One of the options she told me about was the Medical Foster Homes, so I drove out here to check it out and decided to stay! This is my home now where I am happy and feel safe.”
Another Kentucky Veteran (Navy, WW II) and GeriPACT patient, Mr. Weyrauch, used the www.va.gov/Geriatrics website and the Shared Decision Making Worksheet for Veterans and says, “This information has been helpful in helping me to talk with my Home Based Primary Care Team about my needs and to be aware of other programs that can help me.”
Both Veterans are receiving care through GeriPACT.
GeriPACT – Moving Forward
VA’s Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care convened a three-day summit on GeriPACT in Albany New York March 15-17. Over 120 VA physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, social workers, pharmacists, and psychologists from all networks of VA shared their experiences, insights, challenges, and best practices to grow and improve GeriPACT.
Summit attendee, LeAnn Bruce, LCSW, MVF-CSW said, “Several sessions emphasized the value of shared decision making in support of the patient-aligned care model and illustrated what a good fit it is for GeriPACT and the Veterans it serves. We use shared decision making across VISN 9 where I work, and hopefully it will be provided by your GeriPACT soon!”
* Basically means "I've got your back." Comes from the old pilot system in which directions correspond to hours on the clock, where 12 o'clock is forward and 6 o'clock is behind. Thus anyone behind you is "at your six."- See more at: http://www.va.gov/HEALTH/NewsFeatures/2016/May/GeriPACTs-Specialized-Care-for-Older-Veterans.asp#sthash.a6kLTRfx.dpuf
By Sheri Reder, PhD, MSPH and Taryn Oestreich, MPH, MCHES