Caregiver AdvocatesAdvocates supporting proposed legislation that would require hospitals to offer to instruct family caregivers in after-care tasks needed to be performed after discharge turned out for the Legislative Family Caregivers Working Group meeting on August 20 at the state Capitol.

The Caregiver Working Group heard from the directors of state and county elderly affairs offices on the role of Aging and Disability Resource Centers and other community organizations in helping caregivers and their families. Hospitals opposing the CARE Act legislation have said that the counties and community organizations should bear responsibility for instructing caregivers.

Caregiver advocates say that care needed after discharge is case-specific and increasingly complex, and hospitals are in the best position to make informed decisions about a patient’s specific after-care needs. It is important, they say, for hospitals to offer instruction to designated family caregivers – at the time of discharge – in the tasks needed to keep the patient safe at home.

New research on family caregivers in Hawaii indicates that an estimated 154,000 spouses, children, friends and neighbors 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. The report reinforces the growing need to assist family caregivers.

AARP Hawaii is part of a coalition of caregiver advocates supporting the proposed legislation. Across the country 17 states have passed similar measures, as more states recognize the need for hospitals to involve designated family caregivers in patient discharge procedures. Hawaii lags behind in this area, despite its rapidly aging population and the fact that many families rely on unpaid caregivers at home given the high cost of paid nursing care and home health services.