Helping family caregivers

When an individual leaves the hospital, there are a number of steps to recovery, and quite often a loved one, without formal medical training, is called upon to help make sure that recovery goes well. To assist individuals with this challenge, I helped pass the Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable (CARE) Act. The legislation received overwhelming support by the senate and the assembly, passing unanimously in both houses, and was just sent to the governor for final approval.

At any given time, an estimated 4.1 million New Yorkers provide varying degrees of unreimbursed care to adults with limitations in daily activities. But despite their major role in providing day-to-day care, many caregivers are left out of discussions involving a patient’s care while in the hospital and, upon the patient’s discharge, receive little to no instruction in the tasks they are expected to perform.

The CARE Act will help address these demands by having caregivers and hospitals work together in the development of a care plan. Upon admission to a hospital, a patient would be able to designate a caregiver in the patient's medical record. Prior to the patient's discharge to their residence or transfer to another facility, the hospital would need to notify and offer to meet with the designated caregiver to discuss the patient's plan of care and offer to adequately train the designated caregiver in certain aftercare tasks.



When it comes to shopping, eating and other routine activities, most of us are qualified to help. However, when administering multiple medications, changing bandages, and operating medical equipment become part of the care routine, some additional training is often necessary

Enacting this new law will not only improve the quality of care provided to patients once they leave a hospital setting, but it will help reduce an estimated $17 billion in Medicare funds spent each year nationally on hospital readmissions that would not be needed if patients get the right care.

The legislation is supported by several groups including the Alzheimer’s Association, Association on Aging in New York, AARP, Center for Independence of the Disabled, Center for Medical Consumers, Empire State Consumer Project, Lifespan, and NY StateWide Senior Action Council.

In their statement of support, the Coalition of New York State Alzheimer’s Association Chapters said: “Too often, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia are admitted to hospitals and are discharged without a supporting family member or friend that is prepared to aid the patient upon discharge. The CARE Act seeks to ensure that caregivers in these situations have the proper and necessary tools for post-hospitalization care, and that they will be notified of a discharge appropriately and in a timely manner. The CARE Act further seeks to educate the caregiver on the kind of detailed medical care and attention required following discharge, and it encourages open communication lines to best address future medical needs.”

The AARP summed up their support this way: “Millions of New Yorkers are caring for an aging parent or loved one, helping them to live independently in their own homes. These family caregivers have a huge responsibility, and we can take some commonsense steps that would make a world of difference for them. The CARE Act would make sure caregivers are recognized when their loved ones go into the hospital, and that caregivers have the instruction and resources they need to safely help seniors stay at home.”

In addition to the CARE Act, the 2015-16 state budget included significant funding increases that support resources for long term care patients and caregivers. An additional $25 million is being directed to Alzheimer’s programs, and an increase of more than $8 million is being used by the New York Connects program for a statewide expansion that will improve patient access to long term care options, services, and support. The budget also increased funding for the Community Services for the Elderly Program by $2.5 million and included an additional $500,000 for the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program.

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