April 20, 2017 – Andrea Sears, Public News Service (PA)
Hospitals must tell caregivers about discharge plans and give training for home care. (agilemktg1/Flickr)
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Family caregivers in Pennsylvania now can get critical assistance from hospitals to help loved ones who have medical needs stay at home.
The CARE Act, signed into law a year ago, is now in effect.
According to Estella Hyde, lead volunteer for AARP of Pennsylvania, for the first time, Pennsylvania hospitals are required to give patients an opportunity to designate a caregiver in their medical record.
“The family caregiver is informed if their loved one is to be discharged home or transferred to another facility, and hospitals now must give the family caregiver an explanation and demonstration of the medical tasks they would need to perform at home,” she explains.
Caregivers may be required to perform multiple tasks, from managing medications to administering intravenous fluids and injections.
Hyde points to a University of Pittsburgh study that showed that, with the right information and training, caregivers help reduce the risk of re-hospitalization.
“Their research has shown that there was a 25 percent decrease in readmissions among those of the 65-plus receiving Medicare,” she points out.
Hyde notes that families often are scattered across the country, so it’s important for seniors to plan ahead and know that, if they’re hospitalized, there’s someone they can depend on to help out when they return home.
“A cousin, a brother, a sibling or even a friend that I might want to designate, but you have that opportunity to designate a caregiver,” she says.
More than 1.6 million Pennsylvanians care for older parents, spouses or other loved ones, helping them to live independently in their own homes.