On April 20, 2016, the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act (HB 1329), prime sponsored by Rep. Hal English, was signed into law by Gov. Wolf and is now Act 20 of 2016.
The CARE Act will require that hospitals identify, document, provide education (including but not limited to a live demonstration) to the caregiver prior to discharge and to notify the caregiver upon the patients discharge from the facility. Currently, almost half (46%) of family caregivers perform medical or nursing tasks for their loved ones with multiple chronic physical and cognitive conditions. In addition, hospital lengths of stay lessen and patients are sent home earlier. Many of these patients are re-admitted to the hospital due to a lack of caregiver knowledge, care stress, etc.
The goal of the CARE Act is to reduce hospital readmission and healthcare costs. To ensure that this goal is met, the law requires that the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee conduct a study regarding the impact of the act on certain patient outcomes, including, but not limited to hospital re-admissions. This requirement must be met by April 20, 2020.
This law appears to be a win for patients and their families in Pennsylvania. In the hospital, nurses are best positioned to fulfill the requirements of this law for their patients and families. PSNA – and the 219,000 registered nurse that they represent – is prepared to work in collaboration with the hospitals to ensure that they are sufficiently equipped to work with family caregivers. This may require the hospital to assess its nurse staffing practices so that patients and their caregivers are getting the full attention of the registered nurse who will be providing the documentation, education, and notification as the law requires.