Friday, June 6, 2014
Enormous pressure from Medicare and other payers has left hospitals discharging patients faster than ever. They often go home, receiving little to no professional assistance, leaving family members must provide complex care.
A survey taken by AARP and the United Hospital Fund in 2011 found that half of family caregivers perform medical tasks with little or no training. Almost 80 percent manage medications, more than one-third change dressings and care for wounds, and nearly one-quarter use incontinence equipment or give enemas.
Project RED (Re-engineered discharged) is a new solution that builds on a highly successful discharge planning tool and has been used in at least 500 hospitals. RED is a toolkit that takes facilities step-by-step through an effective discharge. Recently, RED has added a template for engaging family caregivers in the discharge process by guiding hospitals through several steps: Identify the primary family caregiver, assess her needs (and the patient’s), document the information, and train her in the skills needed to help loved ones after discharge.
AARP has also developed model state legislation, known as the CARE Act (Caregiver, Advise, Record, Enable Act) that would require hospitals to identify and record the name of the main family caregiver and notify that family member when the patient is discharged. The hospital would furthermore teach the caregiver the skills needed to help the patient after discharge.
See Howard Gleckman, Finally, Some Help for Family Caregivers After Hospital Discharges, Forbes, June 4, 2014.