Australia: WWII veteran's widow baffled by cut to home care - - PressFrom - Australia
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Australia WWII veteran's widow baffled by cut to home care

12:46  11 october  2019
12:46  11 october  2019 Source:   9news.com.au

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The surviving spouse ( widow or widower ) of a veteran may be eligible for Veterans Administration (VA) benefits. Types of VA surviving spouse benefits include Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), death (survivors) pension, housebound pension and Aid & Attendance.

The disabled widow of World War II veteran and showbiz star Syd Heylen said her husband would be "turning over in his grave" over the home care bungle she's had to endure.

Patti Heylen was a star of the stage in her own right, singing and performing until she suffered a brain aneurysm in 1988.

Her husband Syd performed with her, but was best-known as chef and barman Cookie on A Country Practice.

Syd died in 1996, and at 73, Patti is fiercely independent, but she requires care assistance.

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"Having only the use of one arm makes it very difficult," she told A Current Affair.

"It's impossible to do some things. I do as much as I can but I can't push it too far."

a person wearing glasses: Patti Heylen says Veterans' Affairs increased her care assistance - before cutting it without explanation. © A Current Affair Patti Heylen says Veterans' Affairs increased her care assistance - before cutting it without explanation.

Every week, she receives 14 hours of assistance through the federal government's Home Care Packages.

Six months ago, this was boosted to 21 hours by the Department of Veterans' Affairs, before it was slashed by a third earlier this month.

Patti said the penalty rates at the weekend were too costly, so she had to divide her allotted care over the week.

a person wearing a costume: Patti and her late husband Syd on stage together. © A Current Affair Patti and her late husband Syd on stage together.

"I'm not disabled on the weekends, apparently," she said.

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Patti said the extra seven hours came thanks to her marriage.

Syd served in Kokoda in World War II.

His Veterans' Affairs Gold Card gave Patti and him access to a range of public and private health care.

a person wearing a hat: Syd Heylen is best remembered for his role from A Country Practice. © A Current Affair Syd Heylen is best remembered for his role from A Country Practice.

While she is grateful for the assistance she receives, her latest dealings with the DVA has left her reeling.

Despite a phone call to the department, she said she was still unclear as to why her care was increased and then cut.

"I'm seething inside, you know," she said.

In another phone call to the department, Patti said, she was told an aged care facility would provide the higher level of care she is seeking.

a painting of a person: Syd was a World War II veteran. © A Current Affair Syd was a World War II veteran.

"I take that as a threat that I should go into a nursing home, but I won't be doing that," she said.

She says she'll now need to rely on friends for extra help - but she worries not everybody has that level of support.

In a statement, the DVA said it with its clients, and other agencies, to ensure services are complemented rather than being duplicated, ensuring people received the "best possible care for their individual circumstances".

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