Caregivers Continue Push For Mandatory Task Instruction

Mar 14, 2016

Advocates for aging Iowans are asking the state legislature to reconsider its support for a bill that mandates hospitals provide instruction of medical tasks to caregivers, before a patient is discharged. 

The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable Act (Care) failed to meet a critical deadline last week, so the future of the legislation looks dim. Advocates are stilling pushing for lawmakers' support, saying that caregiver training is particularly important because the majority of care provided to older Iowans is not performed by trained professionals, but by friends and family.

"Iowa family caregivers are already the cornerstone of our care systems, they're the backbone," says Kent Sovern, director of AARP Iowa.

Advocates say more than 317,000 unpaid family caregivers in the state save the state money by performing a litany of tasks that allow patients and elderly Iowans to remain at home. 

"They need to take care of wounds, they give injections, they deal with lifting their loved one and help with mobility issues, they manage multiple medication, and they deal with their loved one's pain and often challenging emotions and behaviors," adds John Hale, a long-term care advocate and caregiver from Ankeny. 

The Iowa Hospital Association is a key opponent of the CARE Act. In an emailed statement, the association writes, "This legislation is unnecessary and redundant. Iowa hospitals are absolutely dedicated to providing clear and thorough discharge instructions to every patient and their caregivers. Additionally, hospital staff and providers outside of the hospital work together to coordinate care and follow up with patients and caregivers to answer questions and provide assurance...There are already extensive federal regulations as well as requirements from accrediting organizations that incent hospitals to provide proper discharge information and instructions to avoid hospital readmissions. "