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Missouri AARP pushes for Franklin’s CARE Act to aid family caregivers

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri AARP is looking to one piece of legislation as the answer to several issues they say affect Missouri families.

The 2018 Missouri CARE Act, currently filed under HB 2293, is being sponsored by Rep. Diane Franklin.

The legislation seeks to aid family caregivers in keeping loved ones out of “costly institutions, using what the AARP calls three commonsense steps:

  1. Giving the patient the opportunity to designate and record a family caregiver when being admitted to a hospital.
  2. Ensuring that the family caregiver is informed if the patient is to be discharged to another facility or sent back home.
  3. Providing the caregiver with instructions and demonstrations of the medical and nursing tasks that are required for the patient, such as injections or care for wounds.

Family caregivers provide care to aid relatives or friends in remaining at home instead of going to institutions like nursing homes, and as such, the caregivers aid them in routine daily tasks like bathing, dressing, preparing meals, and doing chores, as well as performing the needed medical tasks, such as administering injections and managing medication.

According to the AARP, most family caregivers report that they receive little to no training in performing the medical tasks, which is why the bill seeks to make sure they receive instruction from the medical personnel discharging the patients.

The AARP also says that more than 69 percent of Missouri caregivers are handling the nursing and medical tasks of a loved one, through the results of a survey they conducted in October of 2017.

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The bill was referred to the House Committee on Health and Mental Health Policy, with a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, March 28. In that hearing, Franklin said that oftentimes, people who are getting discharged want to leave, but in that process, a lot is going on, and more instructions could be needed.

“This sets up a process for one to begin thinking about that,” Franklin said. “It sets up the communication so that the follow-through is there and the care continues.”

“It opens the door for providers to share information that may not be included in the packet,” she continued. “This streamlines that process because there is so much of an emotional and physical toll on caregivers.”

She noted that “we don’t live in the tight-knight communities that we used to,” which coincides with the AARP’s data that shows that most caregivers these days are roughly 50 years of age with their own careers.

Testifying before the committee, an AARP representative said this is an opportunity to give freedom to the patients.

Opponents, however, said that most of the information is already being filed, with forms already existing in regard to whom may be talked to about the patient’s matters.

Cindy Young, President of the Missouri Ambulatory Surgery Center Association, testified in opposition to the bill, suggesting that the bill is addressing an issue that is more relevant to hospitals than outpatient ambulatory surgery centers.

“A surgery center is doing minor outpatient procedures and we are already required by federal regulations to do very similar disclosures when a patient is admitted,” Young said. “We agree with the sponsors intent and want to work with her to make sure this isn’t duplicative and burdensome paperwork on our small business.”