Less than 24 hours after my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at a major Boston hospital, a discharge planner told me I could take her home. I had no idea what to expect from her prognosis. I had no idea where “home” should be – she lived alone more than an hour drive from me and my home wasn’t equipped for her. Plus, I had two kids who would be getting out of school in a few hours and a boss who was expecting me at work. My experience mirrored that of so many family caregivers who are charged with the vital task of caring for an ill family member all the while trying to maintain their own lives.
This week, Massachusetts Legislature enacted House Bill 3911, An Act Establishing the Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable (CARE) Act. I urge Governor Baker to sign it into law, in fact I sent him an email just this morning.
The CARE Act recognizes the critical role family members play as part of the healthcare system and part of a patient’s treatment. Under The Care Act family caregivers:
- will have access to a patient’s health information and discharge plan, when applicable
- will get timely notification of discharge from a hospital to another facility or home
- will receive an explanation and live instruction of the medical tasks that the family caregiver will need to perform at home
- will receive information about available community resources.
These actions will go a long way in supporting family caregivers.
Family caregivers in the United States provided an estimated $470 billion worth of care in the form of 37 billion hours according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. It’s time we recognize them as a vital part of the healthcare industry.
Visit AARP to learn about efforts to adopt the CARE Act in your state. You deserve it.