HARRISBURG, Pa. – Beginning Thursday, April 20, more than 1.6 million family caregivers across Pennsylvania will now receive critical assistance to help older loved ones remain at home with the implementation of the state’s Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act.
(Pictured above: AARP State Director Bill Johnston-Walsh)
The CARE Act helps family caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home. The law was unanimously approved by state General Assembly and signed by Governor Wolf in April 2016.
Developed with input from the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Nurse’s Association, the CARE Act requires hospitals to:
- Provide an opportunity to designate a family caregiver.
- Inform caregivers when loved ones are being discharged to another facility or back home.
- Provide caregivers with an explanation and demonstration of the medical tasks that the caregiver will perform at home.
“AARP led the fight for the CARE Act in Pennsylvania to help family caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital — and when they return home,” said AARP State Director Bill Johnston-Walsh.
“This common sense law delivers essential support to caregivers who are working tirelessly caring for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones, so those older adults can continue living independently, with dignity, at home—where they want to be.”
AARP research shows the CARE Act was needed because:
- Most care recipients (69%) did not have a home visit by a health care professional after discharge from the hospital.
- Almost half (46%) of family caregivers perform medical or nursing tasks for their loved ones with multiple chronic physical and cognitive conditions.
- Three out of four (78%) who provide these medical or nursing tasks manage medications, including administering intravenous fluids and injections.
- Most family caregivers report that they received little or no training to perform these tasks.
Johnston-Walsh said Pennsylvania’s CARE Act will also help control health care expenses and reduce hospital readmissions by ensuring family caregivers receive the information and training they need to help safely care for their loved ones at home.
“Caregiving is a big responsibility, and caregivers need all the help they can get,” said Johnston-Walsh.
Currently, 60 percent of caregivers juggle caregiving responsibilities with the demands of a full-time job, and the average caregiver will devote at least 20 hours a week to helping loved ones.
“The bottom line is caregiving is now a common family dynamic – if you’re not a caregiver now, chances are you were one in the past, or will become one in the future,” said Johnston-Walsh. “While it can be a difficult and emotionally taxing job, caregivers consider it a labor of love and simply wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“Thankfully, Pennsylvania’s new CARE Act will make that job a little easier.”
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