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Caregiver Support Bill Hinges on Cuomo, Assembly Nod

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Friday, March 20, 2015   

NEW YORK - When patients are discharged from the hospital, their home caregivers don't always receive training in how to perform important follow-up tasks such as administering medicine. A new bill would require hospitals to show caregivers how to do that kind of work, but it's up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration and the state Assembly to put it in this year's budget.

The so-called CARE Act would give crucial support to the roughly 4 million family caregivers in New York, said AARP State Director Beth Finkel.

"Family caregivers are expected to provide this care and they want to provide this care," she said, "but in an awful lot of cases, they just don't feel prepared to do it effectively."

The CARE Act would require hospitals to give patients' caregivers live demonstrations of how to dress wounds, move patients into beds and wheelchairs and administer insulin and other medicines. The state Senate has included the measure in its budget proposal, and Cuomo has said he wants to increase funding for caregiver services.

Peggy Hernandez, a caregiver whose husband has Alzheimer's disease, said he's been hospitalized several times since his diagnosis - recently after he suffered an accidental overdose on the drug theraquil - and doesn't feel as though she has received the right instructions on how to take care of him when they return home. The CARE Act would go a long way to help people in her situation, she said.

"The caretakers need support and we need to be instructed and we need to be told and shown how to take care of wounds and various other things when we take a person home," she said. "It will save lives."

The state Senate's health committee chair and Republican leader Dean Skelos have co-sponsored the bill, and are pushing to include it in the state budget, which is due April 1.

The text of the bill is available online at open.nysenate.gov.


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