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Are We At The Tipping Point on Policies for Family Caregivers?

by Kathy Kelly, FCA Executive Director You may notice that there are many states now considering policy actions that effect family caregivers. This is a markedly different environment that reflects the increased desire for remaining in one’s community, coupled with changed incentives within the Affordable Care Act (ACA), that move towards outcomes that increasingly depend on supportive care at home and capped by the demographic changes that will create the demand for long-term services and supports (LTSS), for decades to come. Family Caregiver Alliance tracks legislation across the states for its Caregiving Policy Digest newsletter and we are here to report that the list is growing, covering topics like caregiver involvement in hospital discharge planning, tax credits for caregivers, paid sick leave and state planning efforts for family caregivers. Media coverage is growing and we will share some of the stories that set the agenda, provide background and are especially compelling to view. One of the first notable pieces covering this is the PBS NewsHour segment aired April 8, 2014, highlighting the issue of hospital discharges, and the need to educate family caregivers about medication/prescription conflicts (carrying potentially serious side effects), administering medications at home, and training them on the increasingly technical and complicated care tasks they’re left to carry out at home for their loved ones. [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”419″,”attributes”:{“class”:”media-image alignleft”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”style”:””,”width”:”332″,”height”:”242″,”alt”:”PBS_LTCvidstill”}}]]

This dovetails with efforts in numerous states to enact the Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable (CARE) Act that ensures that hospitals identify and involve family and informal caregivers in discharge planning and receive instructions for care during the hospital stay process. In the weeks to come, we hope to cover efforts across the states that concern family caregivers to give the big picture view on advocacy trends across the United States. If you are working on legislation in your state or even your local community, let us know. We all need to see the bigger picture view on advocacy across the country!