AARP Hawaii Supports Caregiver Bill
by Bruce Bottorff, AARP Hawaii, January 15, 2015
Hawaii’s population is aging, and family caregivers are under growing pressure to help their loved ones live independently in their homes. As the 2015 legislative session kicks off, AARP Hawaii is urging legislators to pass the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, which would help caregivers perform after-care tasks such as medication management and wound care when a patient comes home from the hospital.
“The CARE Act is needed as the pressure grows on unpaid family caregivers to provide care that’s increasingly complex,” said AARP Hawaii State Director Barbara Kim Stanton. “Caregivers have traditionally helped family members with bathing, dressing, eating and other activities of daily living. Today’s caregivers are also called upon to do such things as manage multiple medications and operate specialized medical equipment. These are the kinds of medical tasks for which many family caregivers have little or no training.”
The CARE Act will help families by involving family caregivers more intentionally in the hospital discharge process. The core elements of the bill expected to be introduced this session include: 1) giving patients the opportunity to designate a family caregiver’s name on the medical record; 2) notifying the caregiver when the patient is to be discharged; 3) requiring hospitals to provide live instruction to the family caregiver of the specific medical tasks that need to be performed at home. The bill would not require an appropriation of state funds.
AARP Hawaii is part of a coalition of elder advocates that support the CARE Act to keep a growing number of frail elderly safe and independent in their homes. Other members include the American Cancer Society, Kauai County Agency of Elderly Affairs, Kokua Council, Alzheimer’s Association – Aloha Chapter, and the Maui County Office on Aging.
These organizations believe that providing care instructions at the time of discharge – while helping caregivers navigate a potentially confusing array of medical tasks – could also cut down on costly and excessive hospital readmissions. Last year the Hawaii Health Information Corporation noted that there were about 5,500 30-day potentially preventable readmissions in Hawaii, with associated charges of nearly $239 million in 2013 alone.
The proposed bill also has the support of Hawaii residents. In a recent AARP Hawaii survey of registered voter age 45+ about 95 percent of respondents said they support requiring hospitals to explain and demonstrate medical and nursing tasks that caregivers need to perform after loved ones return from the hospital, with 79 percent strongly supporting the proposal.
How important are family caregivers to Hawaii health care support system? AARP’s Public Policy Institute estimates that there are 247,000 family caregivers throughout the year in Hawaii, who provided unpaid care valued at nearly $2 billion in 2009 alone.
Unpaid family caregivers are the backbone of Hawaii’s eldercare system – and they need our support. To get involved in supporting family caregivers, call AARP Hawaii Director of Advocacy Josh Wisch at 808-545-6005.
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Proposed Legislation Could Improve Follow-up Care
From AARPBulletin January 1, 2015
In the legislative session that begins Jan. 21, AARP Hawaii is pressing for a bill that could reduce hospital readmissions by better preparing family caregivers to perform medical tasks a patient will need at home.
The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act would allow each patient to identify a family caregiver, require the hospital to notify the caregiver when the patient is moved or discharged, and ensure hospital staff show caregivers how to perform follow-up tasks, such as managing medications or dressing wounds, before the patient goes home.
More than 247,000 Hawaii residents are family caregivers, a 2011 AARP report showed. A recent AARP survey found more than 9 in 10 Hawaii voters age 45 and older support the kind of caregiver training the CARE Act describes.
Caregivers can help with advocacy by sharing their stories at aarp.org/iheartcaregivers .