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RI State House

AARP Rhode Island Applauds Signing
of Family Caregiver Assessment Bill


PROVIDENCE – AARP Rhode Island State Director Kathleen Connell today thanked members of the Rhode Island General Assembly and Governor Lincoln Chafee at a ceremony marking the signing into law of Family Caregiver Assessment legislation passed in the recent session.

“The care provided by family caregivers – relatives, partners, friends and neighbors – is vital to the state’s long-term care system,” Connell said. “These unpaid caregivers provide the majority of home and community-based services for persons with disabilities of all ages and are critical to helping people remain at home. Now, thanks to the new law, institutions will take a more careful look at the needs of caregivers when their loved ones are transitioned from a hospital, nursing home or other care setting to in-home family care.”

Connell acknowledged a number of supporters for the new law, including the bill sponsors, Sen. Maryellen Goodwin and Rep. Eileen Naughton for their hard work on this legislation. She also recognized the leadership in support of Family Caregiver Assessment provided by The Older Women’s Policy Group and the Senior Agenda Coalition of Rhode Island.

A family caregiver assessment is a systematic process of gathering information that describes a caregiving situation and identifies the particular problems, needs, resources and strengths of the family caregiver, as well as the caregiver’s ability to contribute to the needs of the care recipient. Effectively assessing and addressing caregiver needs can maintain the health and well-being of caregivers, sustain their ability to provide care, prevent or postpone nursing home placement, and produce better outcomes for the care recipient.

Providing quality care for the care recipient often requires an understanding of the family caregiver’s situation and needs. However, these needs are frequently not identified or addressed in the recipient’s care plan.

While it is standard practice to assess an individual who needs long-term services and supports and develop a care plan to meet that individual’s needs, it is not yet routine to conduct a family caregiver assessment and, based on the assessment, help connect the caregiver to or provide identified supports that are needed, such as training.

“The new Family Caregiver Assessment law will certainly have an impact on the way hospitals and other healthcare facilities weigh the needs of discharged patients,” Connell added. “It can be a big help at the time of transition and positively influence long-term outcomes.”

With passage of the legislation, Rhode Island joins several states are using caregiver assessments, including California, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Washington.

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