PA’s CARE Act Gives Family and Lay Caregivers Their Due
November 25, 2015 | By: Timothy Ohrum, Vice President, Grassroots Advocacy
Stomach pain sent Jeanne to the hospital late one night during October. Her concerned daughter rode along in the ambulance.
After major surgery for a blocked bowel and two weeks in the hospital, Jeanne, like most patients, wanted to finish her recovery at home. Her daughter also wanted that for her mom.
Jeanne was lucky. Her daughter lived close by and could check on her, prepare meals, do household chores, keep track of medications and follow-up appointments, and help manage Jeanne’s care.
Jeanne continues to successfully recover at home with all of its comforts. Her daughter’s clear understanding of Jeanne’s care plan—along with lots of love and attention—make this experience possible.
The Pennsylvania hospital community is working hard to give patients and their families health care experiences like Jeanne’s. That is why we support legislation called the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable Act—the CARE Act.
The CARE Act recognizes that family and lay caregivers, like Jeanne’s daughter, are much-needed MVPs in the coordination of patients’ care when they leave the hospital. This important legislation would give doctors, nurses, and others on the care team a framework for engaging early and often with family or other lay caregivers who will assist patients when they leave the hospital.
By building relationships with these caregivers during patients’ hospital stays, hospital-based care teams can better prepare caregivers to understand and follow care plans when patients go home or to other care settings. Questions and uncertainties about medications, follow-up appointments, and other aspects of patients’ care can be addressed, avoiding misunderstandings that can result in less than optimum health results.
In one study of older heart and pneumonia patients, only about half could correctly remember details about their follow-up appointments after being released from the hospital. Informed, involved lay caregivers, like Jeanne’s daughter, can prevent these missed follow-ups and the health setbacks that can result from them.
The Pennsylvania House has overwhelmingly (194 to 1) voted to pass the CARE Act, or House Bill 1329. Now it’s up to the Senate.
Jeanne, her daughter, and the Pennsylvania hospital community urge the Senate to pass the CARE Act, and Governor Wolf to sign it.