CARE Act would give crucial support to family caregivers

May 4, 2016 § Leave a comment

By Melissa Shannon, Director of Government Relations & Public Affairs, Commonwealth Care Alliance

At Commonwealth Care Alliance, we believe family caregivers are a cornerstone of quality care for the elderly and people with disabilities. Unfortunately, we also know that caregivers can often be marginalized by the healthcare system. Currently, caregivers are not notified about a patient’s discharge from a hospital and are not consulted on the post discharge care plan, which impedes that care plan and increases the chance of re-hospitalizations.

Right now, a bill that would address this problem is under consideration by the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. Sponsored by State Representative Chris Walsh and State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable Act (CARE) (House Bill 3911) would allow a patient to legally designate a caregiver. Hospitals would keep the designated caregiver’s name and contact information as part of the patient’s medical record, and the caregiver would be given the discharge plan when the patient is released from the hospital. Additionally, caregivers would receive important information from the hospital about the patient’s ongoing care, including instructions on medications and treating wounds, to the extent allowed under privacy laws.

Without this legislation, caregivers often do not get the information they need to help keep their loved one healthy and out of the hospital. Our clinicians report countless times where their patients were discharged from hospital without involvement of the family caregiver, which, predictably, led to the patient being readmitted within days. Our clinicians strongly support this legislation as a common sense approach to help reduce readmission rates.

By giving caregivers this legal designation, we can improve care for all individuals. For this reason, Commonwealth Care Alliance joins the AARP and many other organizations and individuals in supporting the CARE Act. We urge the legislature to enact this sensible legislation as soon as possible.


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