AARP is lobbying for legislation it’s calling “The CARE Act” that would require Iowa hospitals and other health care facilities to notify a designated “family caregiver” when a patient is being released. Martha Willits, a member of AARP Iowa’s executive council, says the bill also calls for health care facilities to offer training to those who’ll be helping that patient once they get home.
“Giving medicine, helping with BAND-AIDS, etc. — I did all of this with my mother. It was all new to me. I have no background in medical care and it was really good to know what to do,” Willits says. “I had this kind of service. Many of us do, but if we do, it’s just great practice in Iowa. It is not a requirement as yet.”
AARP conducted polling on the proposal in November and found 95 percent all of those surveyed support requiring hospitals to demonstrate medical tasks to caregivers. The legislation also calls on hospitals to ask a patient to identify a family caregiver and take down the caregiver’s contact information when a patient is admitted to the hospital. Eight-four percent of those surveyed by AARP supported that idea. Kent Sovern, state director for AARP Iowa, revealed the survey results during a news conference at the statehouse.
“We believe that that’s more than just showing support,” Sovern said. “We think that’s a demand for action here at the legislature.”
According to the AARP, there are more than half a million Iowans providing unpaid care to a family member. Sovern calls family caregivers are the “backbone” of care for elderly and disabled Iowans.