D.C. — A program that aims to reduce nursing home care costs by caring for veterans at home, as opposed to institutions, is being piloted across five United States cities. 

The Department of Veteran Affairs is testing the Choose Home Senior Corps program in San Antonio, Pittsburg, PA, Las Vegas, Colorado Springs and Glendive, MT. The program matches aging veterans with volunteers to help with various daily living tasks in an effort to reduce the VA’s nursing home care costs and keep veterans out of institutional care. The VA has invested about $2 million to recruit and train 200 volunteers for the program.

It spends about $6 billion on nursing home care annually. That number is expected to reach $10 billion by 2024. The rise in costs comes as VA nursing home use increased by 3% between 2012 and 2017, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office found.

The average daily census at VA nursing homes also rose from 37,687 to 38,880 veterans during that time period. The average daily census at VA nursing homes also rose from 37,687 to 38,880 veterans during that same time.