A new governmental report suggests that the Department of Veterans Affairs will face several key challenges in meeting the long-term care needs of veterans over the next several years. 

As the number of veterans it serves continues to grow, the VA will have to address workforce shortages, geographic issues and other difficulties, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

“VA’s Geriatrics and Extended Care office recognizes these challenges and has developed some plans to address them. However, GEC has not established measurable goals for these efforts, such as specific staffing targets for programs with waitlists or specific targets for providing telehealth to veterans in rural areas,” the report stated. 

“Without measurable goals, VA is limited in its ability to address the challenges it faces meeting veterans’ long-term care needs,” it added. 

The VA currently provides or purchases long-term care for eligible veterans through 14 long-term care programs in institutional settings, such as nursing homes; and non-institutional settings, such as veterans’ homes, according to the GAO. 

The number of veterans who’ve received long-term care through the VA’s programs has increased by 14% — from about 464,000 to about 530,000 — from 2014 to 2018. An earlier GAO report also noted that the average daily census at VA nursing homes from 2012 to 2017 rose from 37,687 to 38,880 veterans.