The process has been incredibly painless and very quick which has been a huge breath of fresh air as compared to the VA Compensation process. There is a timeline that has to be followed which was wonderful. I applied through a state employed VA adviser, within 3 days I had a call from the social worker at the VA Hospital who asked me questions as far as what I do for my husband, what his challenges are, is he a fall risk, etc? It was another week before I received the training workbook and the was simply because it hadn't been finished yet, the night I got the work book and CD I spent three or four hours doing the training. I highly advise you to answer the optional questions at the end of each chapter because the final test questions are taken from those questions. Once I was finished I emailed the answers to the address I was given and I called the VA Caregiver lady to let her know. I was told that the home visit had to be done with 10 days of the completion of the training, mine was done I believe 5 days after I finished. Now all of the information goes back to the Caregiver Coordinator and I should hear from her and be finished completely with the process in another week or two.
When the announcement came that applications were being taken for the National Caregiver Support Program I wasn't sure if I would qualify. I mean my husband has all of his limbs and he appears to be functional to those who don't know him but I decided to apply anyway, the worst that they could say was no, right? Going through the application process opened my eyes to how much I really do and how little time I actually have for me. Through out the years what I do has become routine, the things I had to do started small and as my husband's condition deteriorated I took on more and more- I just did what I had to do to get through the day-like many of you. Going through the application process and having to answer all of the questions made me realize how much I do.
Tip #1- Sit down and take stock of what responsibilities fall on you because your spouse is no longer able to do them. I found when I was asked what I do to care for my husband I had a hard time answering because it was such an open question, I just was doing what I had to in order to take care of my family, I had never sat down and thought about it before. I was honest and told the woman that it was too much of an open question and she asked me more specific questions. There are also specific questions that are asked as part of the application process but if you sit down and take stock of what you do you will be a bit more prepared than I was.
For me the obvious was helping my husband to dress and having to lift things because of his failed back surgery. The not so obvious was from his TBI and PTSD, I have to remind him to take care of himself as far as showers, brushing teeth etc. I handle the finances because my husband can't do it anymore, I do most of the cooking and cleaning, I have to do the errands because it makes him really anxious to be out of the house and around people. I handle the appointments and most of the communications to the doctors, I sit in on doctors appointments because he forgets what is said and things that he needs to talk about and I help him because sometimes he finds it difficult to find the right words to get his thoughts across.
Tip # 2- I highly advise you to answer the optional questions at the end of each chapter of the training book because the final test questions are taken from those questions.
Tip # 3- Stay in contact with your VA Caregiver Coordinator, always ask the time line for the next step, when you should expect to hear something and from who. If you don't hear from someone in the timeline you are supposed to don't just sit there hoping, call the Coordinator, that is their job, they will find out what is going on. If you have any questions whatsoever CALL the Coordinator, there is no reason for you to be wondering or left in the dark about anything at all.
Tomorrow I will post about the home visit. If you have any specific questions about my experience through out the process feel free to ask and I will answer to the best of my ability.
I would also like to add that my Caregiver Coordinator ROCKS-thanks for all of the help and hand holding through the process Marianne!