A new state regulation goes into effect soon that aims to help Tennessee’s hospitals integrate family caregivers into their loved ones’ medical records.
According to AARP, 60 percent of Tennesseans 45 and older currently provide unpaid care for a loved one.
The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable, or CARE, Act requires hospitals to inform family caregivers when their loved ones have been discharged from the hospital.
AARP Tennessee State Director Rebecca Kelly says the CARE Act is designed to improve communication and coordination between medical facilities and caregivers.
“I personally have parents that live three hours away, and they were discharged from a hospital in the middle of an ice and snow storm,” she relates. “And had I known that, I could have made arrangements for a more careful transition from the hospital to their home.”
Tennessee AARP, the state Department of Health and the Hospital Association of Tennessee worked to craft the regulation.
A 2015 telephone survey found more than 80 percent of registered voters in the state, age 45 and older, support the CARE Act.
Nearly 1 million Tennesseans are caregiving for a family member.
In addition to household chores, family caregivers increasingly are performing medical and nursing tasks, such as managing multiple medications, administering injections and utilizing special equipment.
Kelly says the CARE Act will help to ensure that caregivers have specific instructions on medical care for their loved one post-hospital stay.
“First of all, the name of the caregiver is recorded when a loved one is admitted into a hospital,” she points out. “The second one is that family caregiver is notified when the loved one is to be discharged to another facility or to back home, and then third, the facility must provide an explanation and live instruction of the medical tasks that need to be done for that patient.”
More than 40 states have either adopted CARE Act provisions or are considering legislation.