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A Call for Support: IA Family Caregivers Converge at Capitol

PHOTO: The CARE Act would require Iowa hospitals to provide family caregivers with training to help them perform some medical tasks, and keep them informed about major medical decisions for their loved ones. Photo credit: Bradley Gordon/Flickr.
PHOTO: The CARE Act would require Iowa hospitals to provide family caregivers with training to help them perform some medical tasks, and keep them informed about major medical decisions for their loved ones. Photo credit: Bradley Gordon/Flickr.
February 2, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa - Family caregivers and their supporters from across Iowa are converging on the state Capitol today, releasing a new voter survey about the experiences around family caregiving. The group will urge lawmakers to make sure those who are taking care of family members are better prepared to do so.

Anthony Carroll, advocacy director with AARP Iowa, says there are a number of unexpected challenges facing people who end up in caregiving roles that need to be addressed, such as having to perform medical duties.

"Things like handling injections, IVs, managing medications, and doing wound care," Carroll says. "What we're looking at is makings sure people are equipped to do those sometimes complicated and often challenging medical and nursing tasks."

One proposal in the Legislature, known as the CARE Act, requires hospitals to provide instruction on medical tasks the family caregiver may need to perform at home. Proponents of the bill say it would also help reduce hospital re-admissions.

In addition, the Act would have hospitals record the name of a family caregiver when a loved one is admitted and keep that person informed of major decisions, including if the patient will be transferred or discharged. Carroll says that engagement is vital, as two-thirds of Iowa's long-term, home and community-based care is being provided by family members, many of whom are also working.

"Unpaid loved ones. Mostly children, sometimes spouses," says Carroll. "Mostly women, but some men, who volunteer to spend time out of the love and kindness of their heart to assist loved ones."

Statewide, AARP says there are more than a half-million family caregivers and that number is expected to rise as the population continues to age.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA