Each day, more than 123,000 Delawareans serve as caregivers for family members. Families are doing their best to care for loved ones at home. But they cannot do it alone. They need help to balance work, family and caregiving. Why does Delaware law say you cannot have a nurse’s aide come into your home and administer medicines to your loved one while you’re at work? AARP and a coalition of partners want to change this law, and let families get real help at home.
Several lawmakers in Delaware have been instrumental in helping Delaware’s Caregivers have better support, knowledge and resources. AARP will honor them with the AARP Capitol Caregiver Award at Legislative Hall on April 19. Awardees are Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall Long, Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, Sen. John Walsh, and Rep. Paul Baumbach. The group will also speak about the Share the Care Act, a proposed law that will make life easier for family caregivers.
Here are the details for the Awards Ceremony:
WHERE: Legislative Hall, East Steps (outside)
411 Legislative Ave, Dover, DE 19901
- Lucretia Young: Introduction
- Sheila Grant: Pending Legislation—Share the Care Act
- Mary Louise Embrey: One Caregiver’s Story
- Ken Bock: The Big Picture/Families Need Flexibility
Across America, how we provide care for older adults and people with disabilities is changing. Here in Delaware, we have some important catching up to do. Delaware currently ranks 41st in the United States for the number of tasks home health aides are permitted to perform. Home health aides in Delaware can help people with bathing, dressing, eating, and getting out of bed, but they cannot legally give medications. The current Delaware law does not allow trained home health aides to administer routine oral medications, eye drops, and nebulizer (inhaled) treatments—all of which can be difficult for a family caregiver to provide, as these often need to be given at frequent intervals throughout the caregiver’s workday.
Ironically, Delaware law permits a family’s housekeeper to complete these tasks but prohibits trained home health aides from doing so. Day Care providers may also give medicine with written permission and instruction from a parent.
To promote quality care and better health outcomes at a lower cost, we should modify Delaware’s outdated laws that limit the care home health aides are allowed to provide. We should join the many other states that have seen the benefits of these changes. As we ease the burden on family caregivers by allowing trained home health aides to do more, family caregivers will better sustain the balance between working and caregiving—an important consideration, as more and more Baby Boomers retire and as we in Delaware seek to reinvigorate our economy and enhance our workforce.
Demographic changes in the First State are also daunting. A sharp increase in age will come with an increase in demand for health care. The State is seeing an influx of retirees. The number of Delawareans older than 60 is expected to double by the year 2030.
As they age, most Delawareans prefer to continue living at home with help from family and friends, hoping that their family caregivers will succeed with balancing work and caregiving duties, knowing all the while how difficult this juggling act can be. The only way we will be able to meet the preferences of older Delawareans for reliable care while still growing our workforce and economy is to help increase the options—and lower the costs—for family caregivers.
A recent AARP Public Policy Institute study cites a need in Delaware for improving supports for family caregivers. In the coming years, Delaware will need to meet the growing demand for health care, all while implementing measures to promote better care at lower costs. Allowing trained home health aides to perform more tasks should be a part of these efforts. We look forward to passing this legislation in 2018, and to helping family caregivers and their loved ones alike.
Delaware can Improve Supports for Older Delawareans, Caregivers
AARP Family Caregiving Resource Page
Prepare to Care Guides