A bill introduced in the North Dakota Legislature would better support thousands of family caregivers in the state.

The Caregiver, Advise, Record, and Enable Act (Senate Bill 2154), was introduced by Senators Nichole Poolman (R-Bismarck), Dick Dever (R-Bismarck), and Kathy Hogan (D-Fargo), and Representatives Thomas Beadle (R-Fargo), Gretchen Dobervich (D-Fargo), and Lisa Meier (R-Bismarck).

Also known as the CARE Act, the legislation would help unpaid family caregivers better care for their loved ones when they are discharged from a hospital.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Human Services Committee. The hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15.


The CARE Act features three important provisions that help family caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home:

  • Patients can designate a family caregiver to be recorded in their medical record when they are admitted to the hospital;
  • The family caregiver is notified before their loved one is discharged from the hospital; and,
  • Family caregivers are instructed on the medical tasks they will need to do at home, like cleaning a wound or giving an injection.

One in four North Dakota family caregivers said they did not receive instructions on medical tasks when their loved ones were discharged from the hospital in a November survey of 800 North Dakotans age 40 and older. One in four is too many.

Of those surveyed, 56 percent of caregivers had to perform nursing or medical tasks at home.

The survey also revealed that 92 percent of those surveyed think it’s important to require hospitals to explain and demonstrate any medical or nursing tasks family caregivers will need to perform after the patient returns home.

The CARE Act is a no-cost, commonsense bill that supports family caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home.

North Dakota is among only 13 states in this country that have NOT passed the CARE Act and caregiving families outside of North Dakota right now are benefiting from the law’s protections, including our neighbors in Montana, Minnesota, Wyoming and Nebraska.

In North Dakota there are 62,100 family caregivers who help their loved ones to live independently – keeping them out of more costly nursing homes, saving taxpayer dollars. Those family caregivers provide 58 million hours of unpaid care valued at $860 million.

In states where the CARE Act is law, hospital readmission rates are on the decline. In Pennsylvania, integrating caregivers into discharge planning resulted in a 25 percent reduction in risk of the elderly patient being readmitted to the hospital within 90 days. In New Jersey readmission rates were reduced by 13.3 percent between 2010 and 2015.

You can help support the CARE Act in a number of ways:

  • Contact your legislators and ask them to support Senate Bill 2154.
  • Sign the petition to show your support for family caregivers.
  • Tell your caregiving story by testifying before the legislature. If you are willing to tell your story to the committees hearing this legislation, please contact AARP North Dakota Advocacy Director Mike Chaussee at mchaussee@aarp.org, or call him at 701-390-0161.