By Andrea Sears, Public News Service
for The Post Publications
HARRISBURG PA – Family caregivers in Pennsylvania now can get critical assistance from hospitals to help their loved ones with medical needs stay in their homes. The state’s CARE (Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable) Act, signed into law a year ago, officially becomes effective today (April 20, 2017).
The act requires Pennsylvania hospitals to give elderly patients an opportunity to designate a caregiver in their medical record, according to Estella Hyde, lead volunteer for AARP of Pennsylvania. That puts the named caregiver in the loop for medical provider information about and plans for the patient, as well as training for his or her needs.
The benefit? Hyde points to a University of Pittsburgh study showing that, with proper information and training, caregivers help reduce the risk of re-hospitalization. Among patients age 65 and older who received Medicare, she noted, university research pointed to a 25-percent decrease in re-admissions.
The act demands the family caregiver be “informed if their loved one is to be discharged home or transferred to another facility,” Hyde explained. And because caregivers may be required to perform multiple tasks, from managing medications to administering intravenous fluids and injections, “hospitals now must give them an explanation and demonstration of those tasks to perform at home.”
Families often are scattered across the country, so it’s important for seniors to plan ahead. Before they’re hospitalized, Hyde warned, they must prepare in advance to ensure there’s someone they can depend on to help out when they return home. The designee could be “a cousin, a brother, a sibling, or even a friend” who agrees to the role, she said.
More than 1.6 million Pennsylvanians care for older parents, spouses or other loved ones, AARP claimed.
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