By Mike Festa, State Director AARP Massachusetts
If you are not a caregiver, chances are you will be one in the future, or maybe you know someone who is currently caring for their loved one. In 2015 in Massachusetts, family caregivers provided 786 million hours of unpaid care valued at approximately $11.6 billion annually. These family caregivers have a huge responsibility and, fortunately, there is a new state law to help them. AARP Massachusetts is thrilled to announce that the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act is now law. The CARE Act recognizes the critical role family caregivers play in keeping their loved ones at home, and out of costly institutions. Currently, Massachusetts is the 38th state to enact the CARE Act.
On behalf of our 800,000 members, AARP Massachusetts thanks lead co-sponsors Senator Linda Dorcena Forry (D-Dorchester) and Representative Chris Walsh (D-Framingham) for their leadership and tenacious advocacy on behalf of all family caregivers. This law provides essential support to family caregivers who are often called on to provide complex medical care for which they receive little or no instruction. Additionally, we thank the partner organizations that supported this bill and our tireless band of volunteer advocates who stood with us and supported the CARE Act from concept through implementation.
The CARE Act features three important provisions related to the family caregiver’s role when their loved one is hospitalized:
- The hospital patient is provided with an opportunity to designate a family caregiver;
- The family caregiver is notified if the patient is to be discharged to another facility or back home; and,
- The facility must provide an explanation and live instruction of the medical tasks – such as medication management, injections, wound care and transfers – that the family caregiver will perform at home.
The CARE Act is a commonsense step that will make a world of difference to the more than 844,000 Bay State residents who are caring for an aging parent or loved one, helping them to live independently in their own homes. By providing training and support for caregivers, we can help seniors to stay at home where they want to be, and prevent unnecessary hospitalizations and costly readmissions. AARP Massachusetts fought for the CARE Act because supporting family caregivers is a priority for all of us.
Stay up-to-date on the latest caregiving and advocacy news with AARP Massachusetts. Visit www.aarp.org/ma or call toll-free, 866-448-3621.