Under a new law, Pennsylvania hospitals are required to identify a specified caregiver for each patient prior to discharge and to provide them the necessary information for post-acute care, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Dubbed the CARE Act (the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable Act), the legislation acknowledges the importance of non-licensed caregivers such as family and friends for ensuring that patients’ paths to recovery are successful. Once discharged from the hospital or acute-care facility, there are still important steps to take to maintain the treatment’s momentum.
But many patients are not in a mental state that is conducive for receiving complex care directions upon discharge. Asking patients at intake for the contact info of a caregiver, as the new law mandates, eliminates the need to worry about whether a patient understands the next steps in their treatment once they arrive home:
While patients are not required to identify a caregiver … advocates for the CARE Act believe there’s only a benefit to having an additional person familiar with post-discharge care needs. A recent University of Pittsburgh study reported that involving caregivers in the discharge of elderly patients reduced hospital readmissions by one-fourth.
This is another step in the right direction toward implementing care coordination ideas into existing treatment structures. Unlicensed caregivers are a crucial, if unofficial, part of treatment. Providing them with the information and training needed to care for their loved ones is a positive action from all angles.