By Emily Kearns
31 May 2015
Calling all caregivers – yes, that means you! If you are not caring for someone now, chances are you eventually will – be they a relative, friend or partner living with a chronic illness or disability. Not only that, the care you provide will most likely require coordinating and providing medical care for this person. According to AARP, “almost half of the 42 million family caregivers in America have performed medical/nursing tasks for their loved ones” including: managing multiple medications and special diets, providing wound care, and operating monitors and medical equipment. 1Many of us already know the frustration of uncoordinated care. Have you ever rushed to visit a loved one just admitted to a hospital only to find a chaotic scene where staff are either unable or unwilling to allow you access to information or even to visit? HIPAA is often the default excuse – to protect the hospitalized individual’s privacy we can’t be told their condition or, in extreme situations, even where they are!
AARP decided to take action to support caregivers’ need to know by proposing legislation – the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act. The CARE Act would allow the caregiver to be part of a coordinated care team supporting their loved one while in the hospital and even after discharge. This is critical because hospital readmissions are common when care is not coordinated and the caregiver is not informed about what type of care is needed after discharge. The CARE Act creates a mechanism to ensure that caregivers remain in the loop in three ways. First, the caregiver’s name is entered into the hospital/rehab facility’s records upon their loved one’s admission. Second, the caregiver is notified about moves and discharges. Third, the caregiver receives instructions on how to provide post-discharge care including: medication management, wound care, injections, and more – whatever is needed to ensure quality care to heal and to prevent readmission.
Not only is this critical for the caregiver and care recipient, but it is also important as we collectively try to reduce health care costs. According to the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services, in 2010 the readmission rate for Medicare beneficiaries alone was 19.2% costing $17.5 billion dollars.2 The CARE Act would provide a simple system for helping improve quality of care and potentially reduce costs.
Join us to learn more about the CARE Act from guest speaker, Mike Festa, State Director of AARP, Tuesday, June 2nd, 10 – noon, MS Society 101A First Avenue, Waltham, MA. For more information and to RSVP see our website: www.massrespite.org.