For Immediate Release:
February 11, 2016
Jason Erskine / 206-517-9345
Cathy MacCaul / 206-218-5915
New Survey Shows Washingtonians Overwhelmingly Support Measures to Help Family Caregivers
Advocates deliver thousands of petitions supporting “The CARE Act” to key legislators
Washington – AARP Washington today released findings of a new statewide survey highlighting the experiences, challenges and needs of family caregivers in the state. The survey results emphasize the important role an estimated 1.25 million Washingtonians play throughout the year as family caregivers, and shows overwhelming support from Washington voters for measures to better support those who care for the ones we love.
“Today in Washington, a silent army of family caregivers are the unheralded backbone of our state’s care system providing more than two-thirds of home care for older Washingtonians and adults with disabilities,” said Doug Shadel, State Director of AARP Washington, which represents more than 945,000 Washingtonians age 50 and older. “If you’re not a caregiver now, you were one in the past, or you’ll likely be one in the future. And while caregivers say they wouldn’t have it any other way, families incur physical, emotional and financial strains through this labor of love,” he said. “In short, Washington family caregivers need help.”
The survey of 800 Washington registered voters age 45 and older, “2016 AARP Washington Caregiving Survey: The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act” shows Washington family caregivers are providing care in a variety of ways. More than eight-in-ten Washingtonians report their caregiving duties include assisting their loved ones with transportation (88%), shopping (88%), and household chores (83%). Eighty-one percent assist with meal preparation while two-thirds (64%) provide assistance managing finances and about half (51%) assist their loved ones with bathing and dressing.
According to the survey, those duties are taking a toll on family caregivers. Survey respondents who are current or past caregivers report feeling stress, both emotionally (70%) and financially (29%). Caregivers say they are finding it difficult to get rest (56%), and express feeling stressed about trying to balance their work and family (60%) and taking care of their household (45%).
One of the more noteworthy findings of the survey shows Washington caregivers are also heavily involved in the medical side of caring for their loved ones. Two-thirds of caregivers assist with complex care like medication management (68%) and overseeing other nursing and medical tasks such as wound care, IVs and injections (67%).
However, much of that care is being provided with little, if any, training or support. Take for example the story of Shelton resident Susan Day. Last spring, Susan’s husband Edward spent more than a month in the hospital – half of which was spent in intensive care, including five stressful days when he wasn’t expected to live. Thankfully he pulled through, but the struggle wasn’t over.
During Edward’s final week in the hospital, Susan asked repeatedly for both time and training on the procedures she would need to perform once she got her husband home including injections, wound care and managing multiple medications. She knew it would be a challenge given their Shelton home was more than a 2-hour drive from his doctors in Seattle. As it turned out though, Susan says “Edward’s discharge was chaotic, inadequate, and poorly timed for everyone.”
“We learned a lot through trial-by-fire,” says Susan. “Fortunately Edward has a tough character, but the lack of information and training led to huge amounts of unnecessary stress and grief.”
“The burden of performing nursing tasks without proper guidance or training is tremendous,” says Shadel. “It not only puts extra stress on the caregiver, it can result in the patient being readmitted to the hospital.” That’s why AARP is working with Washington lawmakers to pass House Bill 2424 and Senate Bill 6327, known as “The Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable (CARE) Act.” Sponsored by Representative Steve Tharinger (D-24) and Senator Barbara Bailey (R-10) the bill features three provisions:
– The name of the family caregiver is recorded when a loved one is admitted into a hospital;
– The family caregiver is notified if the loved one 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.
AARP’s survey of Washingtonian voters shows strong support of these measures with 94% indicating their support for requiring hospitals to demonstrate medical tasks to caregivers; 91% support for requiring hospitals to keep caregivers informed of major decisions like transferring or discharging the patient; and 82% support for requiring hospitals and care facilities to record caregiver information upon admission.
As part of today’s survey release, AARP members from around the state hand delivered nearly 7,000 signed petitions to state legislators calling for passage of “The Care Act.”
“Family care givers are vital to helping seniors age in their homes and communities,” said Representative Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim. “We should do everything we can to make their job easier by giving them respite, training and information about services.”
“The CARE Act provides needed support to family caregivers who play a critical role in helping our aging population,” said Sen. Barbara Bailey, R- Oak Harbor. “It is easy to understand why Washingtonians support this common sense legislation that gives families tools to help seniors age in place. The survey findings that 80-90 percent support the core components of the proposal is a clear indicator that we must act to empower families at these critical times in their lives.”
AARP’s survey is part of the Association’s “I Heart Caregivers” campaign, which is designed to support, inform and advocate for family caregivers in Washington State and across the country. The telephone survey was conducted among 800 registered voters in Washington age 45 and older between December 11 and December 19, 2015, and has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percent. A full copy of the survey is posted at online, or available by contacting AARP Communications Director Jason Erskine at 206-517-9345 / email@example.com.