HARRISBURG, Pa., April 20, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 1.6 million family caregivers across Pennsylvania will receive critical assistance to help older loved ones remain at home following Governor Tom Wolf's signature today on the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act.
Today's action by the Governor means Pennsylvania's CARE Act will take effect in April of 2017. The bill (HB 1329) was unanimously approved by both chambers of the General Assembly earlier this month.
"AARP led the fight for the CARE Act 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 law will help control health care expenses, reduce costly hospital readmissions and trips to the emergency room by ensuring family caregivers receive the information and knowledge they need to safely care for their loved ones at home."
Sponsored by Representative Hal English (R-30), the PA CARE Act was developed with input from the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Nurse's Association, and features three key provisions:
- That a caregiver be designated upon a senior's hospital admission.
- That the facility notify the caregiver of the discharge plan.
- That the facility provide an explanation and live instruction of all medical tasks – such as medication management, injections, wound care, and transfers – that the family caregiver will perform at home.
Johnston-Walsh said the new law was needed since research shows family caregivers increasingly perform complex medical or nursing tasks for their loved ones with multiple chronic physical and cognitive conditions, often with little or no training.
"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. "Many caregivers provide assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week and perform complicated medical tasks like wound care, injections, and medication management that were once in the domain of only doctors or nurses."
Until the law takes effect in 2017, Johnston-Walsh said AARP will work with state hospital officials to help integrate caregivers into health care facilities' admission and discharge procedures. He added that AARP will also educate caregivers statewide about their rights under the new law.
"With the vast majority of older Pennsylvanians wanting to remain in their homes and communities as they age, the contribution of family caregivers cannot be overlooked," said Johnston-Walsh. "Without the help of family caregivers, too many of our seniors would end up in costly institutions – often paid for by the state, through Medicaid."
Approval of the CARE Act makes Pennsylvania the 23rd state to approve similar legislation designed to help family caregivers.
"While they would not have it any other way, family caregiving is a big job," said Johnston-Walsh. "Pennsylvania's CARE Act will make that job a little easier."
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.
SOURCE AARP Pennsylvania