For the hundreds of thousands of caregivers across Kansas tirelessly caring for their parents, spouses, and other loved ones so they can live independently at home, help is here. The Kansas Lay Caregiver Act took effect on July 1, 2018, giving caregivers support as their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home.

Across Kansas, 345,000 caregivers spend four million hours each year caring for loved ones – a contribution totaling about $3.8 billion in unpaid care. They carry out tasks like managing finances, providing transportation, helping with bathing and dressing, cooking meals and more. Some caregivers even take on complicated medical and nursing tasks like cleaning wounds, giving injections, and managing medications. Once done by doctors and nurses, these tasks are now being performed by caregivers at home, most with little to no training.

“Caregivers are the first line of defense against older Kansans having to leave their homes for readmission to the hospital or another care setting,” said Dr. Maren Turner, Director of AARP Kansas, which serves more than 318,000 members age 50 and older across the state.  “AARP thanks former Governor Brownback, Senator Vicki Schmidt and Representative Dan Hawkins, and the Kansas Legislature for supporting our Kansas caregivers.”

Passed by the legislature in March 2017, and signed by Governor Brownback on March 28, 2017, the Kansas Lay Caregiver Act supports caregivers and their loved ones from hospital to home.

The Kansas law requires hospitals to record the name of the patient’s designated caregiver upon admission and keep that caregiver informed of their loved one’s discharge plans. It also helps make sure that caregivers have the instruction they need to safely care for their loved ones when they come home from the hospital.

“This legislation will improve the quality of care of countless Kansans and save the taxpayers money in the process by lowering readmissions to hospital emergency rooms,” said Judy Bellome, retired nurse and AARP advocacy leader.

Nationally, almost half (46%) of family caregivers perform medical or nursing tasks for their loved ones with multiple chronic physical and cognitive conditions – and 78 percent of caregivers who provide these tasks manage medications, including administering intravenous fluids and injections.  Source: Home Alone: Family Caregivers Provide Complex Chronic Care (AARP Public Policy Institute, 2014)

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