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Primary healthcare nurses have an important role in providing treatment and services to the veteran community.
Up to 6,000 personnel leave the Australian Defence Force (ADF) each year, including around 20% for medical reasons.
To ensure they receive the care they need and are entitled to after serving their nation, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) spends around $4 billion annually on health and wellbeing services.
The modern face of DVA clients continues to change. They are men and women of all ages and experiences. Many clients are under 20 years old, including children, and there are increasing numbers of female veterans.
For some members, transitioning from Defence to civilian-based healthcare, then accessing ongoing care for lifelong health and wellbeing, can present challenges. Your practice can help veterans to overcome stigmas and improve their access to treatment and services.
DVA offers two key programs tailored specifically to assist primary healthcare practices and their veteran patients.
The aim is to support improved health outcomes for DVA clients, including:
Reduction in unplanned hospital admissions and improved management of chronic conditions under the Coordinated Veterans’ Care (CVC) Program.
Early intervention and prevention of veteran mental health issues and other key health conditions, with GP Veteran Health Checks funded for every former serving ADF member.
We also want to make it as easy as possible for you to access the information you need to understand and apply these DVA arrangements. DVA has developed a suite of handy reference guides and resources to help you when treating a DVA client.
The CVC Program uses a proactive approach to improve the management of chronic conditions and quality of life, and reduce the risk of unplanned hospitalisations, for eligible DVA clients.
Veteran Gold Card holders with one or more chronic conditions and Veteran White Card holders with DVA-accepted mental health conditions, who are at risk of hospitalisation, may be eligible to participate.
General practices are funded to provide proactive care coordination. The participant will work with their GP and a care coordinator (typically a practice nurse) as a core Care Team to develop a comprehensive care plan, tailored to the participant’s individual health and care needs.
CVC Tools and Resources
Covers program details; latest information on claiming; newsletters; and training.
Includes an eligibility tool, claim calculator, care plan templates and other useful information and links to engage with other health professionals.
The Veteran Health Check presents an opportunity for veterans to gain access to a comprehensive physical and mental health assessment and establish a relationship with a general practice.
GPs are given an opportunity to build an understanding of a veteran patient’s health and wellbeing, and identify and address any physical and mental health conditions common in the years following transition from the ADF.
Based on the needs of the patient, sessions can be billed for up to one hour or more to undertake the assessment. A 45 minute consultation is recommended.
Some key medical conditions that can impact on former service personnel, both in the immediate and longer term, include musculoskeletal conditions, hearing loss, tinnitus, posttraumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions, and other health issues that can arise from their military training and/or active service.
Eligibility and DVA/MBS Item Numbers
ADF members who have transitioned out of the Defence Force since 1 July 2019 with at least one day of continuous full-time service are able to gain access to a fully-funded comprehensive health check from a GP each year for the first five years following transition. The Annual Veteran Health Check is funded under DVA item numbers MT701, MT703, MT705 and MT707.
Veterans that transitioned prior to 30 June 2019, are still able to gain access to the One-off Veteran Health Check at any time after they transition. The One-off Veteran Health Check is available for all former serving ADF members and is funded under MBS item numbers 701, 703, 705 and 707.
Custom Veteran Health Check Assessment Tool
The Veteran Health Check Assessment Tool includes screening processes for alcohol and substance use, posttraumatic stress disorder and psychological distress.
To access the Veteran Health Check Assessment Tool, you can search ‘ADF post-discharge GP Health Assessment’ in Best Practice or MedicalDirector and the DVA website.
DVA has developed helpful, easy to use Quick Guides for general practices when presented with veterans and their family members.
The DVA Basics Quick Guide reminds you to ask your patient if they’ve served, which veteran cards to look out for and what they cover, as well as key DVA contacts for you and your veteran patient.
The DVA Claiming Quick Guide reminds you of the item numbers for different DVA programs and the associated tools and supports available for those programs.
Print off these Quick Guides and put them up in your general practice consultation rooms, and/or reception area so you have the information you need when you need it most.
"DVA provides and funds many great services and programs to support the health and wellbeing of veterans and their families. We know that for many general practices, veterans make up only a small percentage of patients so it can be difficult to know the relevant DVA health arrangements to help veterans when they present at your clinic. These guides cut it down to the basics to help you provide best practice care to veterans and their families." Professor Jenny Firman AM, Chief Health Officer, Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Open Arms - Veterans & Families Counselling offers free online training courses and webinars, including Professional development military awareness courses, that are designed to help clinicians, practice nurses and other clinical practice staff to better support the mental health needs of veterans.
Phoenix Australia: Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health delivers the Practitioner Support Service and Advice Line (1800 838 777), providing health practitioners and support organisations access to free expert advice on veteran-specific mental health and trauma matters. Phoenix’s multidisciplinary team of experts are also available to provide consultation advice and support on individual cases. To submit your case and organise a consultation, please complete the enquiry form or call the intake line on 1800 838 777 (12:30-4:30pm Mon-Fri). This is not a crisis support service and it does not provide advice or services directly to veterans or their families.
Phoenix Australia also offers professional development resources.
Black Dog Institute provides free online training for Australian health professionals.