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Update: Advocates Urge Lawmakers to Support Family Caregivers

Caregiver Working Group - Group Photo

Advocates intent on passing legislation supporting Hawaii’s family caregivers presented their case before the Legislative Family Caregivers Working Group at the state Capitol on September 10.

The meeting was apparently the only chance advocates will have to directly address the Working Group on why the CARE Act is needed in Hawaii. Leading the caregiver advocates were AARP Hawaii State President Gerry Silva and Executive Council Member Audrey Suga-Nakagawa. Two family caregivers and a care recipient described personal experiences that would have benefited from the proposed legislation to support caregivers and their families: Tony Lenzer of the Hawaii Family Caregiver Coalition, Rose Nakamura of Project Dana, and Jeanne Schultz Afuvai, president and CEO of the Hawaii Institute for Public Affairs.

The proposed law is critical, advocates explained, because family caregivers in Hawaii are being called on to provide increasingly complex types of care for which many are unprepared. The CARE Act would require hospitals to establish policies and processes to give caregivers – prior to discharge – the opportunity to receive instruction in the tasks need to be performed at home.

In 2015 the state Legislature established the Working Group ( SCR 107) to examine hospitals' involvement of family caregivers in discharge procedures. Caregiver advocates believe it is important for hospitals to include designated caregivers in the discharge process, and to offer to instruct them in the aftercare tasks needed at home. Since 2014, 18 states have passed the CARE Act - including bills in California and New York that are awaiting governor signatures.

The next scheduled meeting of the Working Group is on Thursday, October 8. For more information about the proposed legislation contact AARP Hawaii Director of Communications Bruce Bottorff at 808-545-6006.

Hawaii residents supporting the legislation are encouraged to sign the Hawaii CARE Act petition.

New research estimates that there are 154,000 caregivers in Hawaii who provide a range of care services to older loved ones at home. According to the AARP Public Policy Institute report, family caregivers in Hawaii provided unpaid care worth $2.1 billion in 2013 alone.

 

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