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New Law Comes to Rescue of Arkansas Caregivers

A new law is on the books to help Arkansas caregivers and recent hospital patients ease transitions from medical facility care to home care. Credit: Susan Chiang/iStock
A new law is on the books to help Arkansas caregivers and recent hospital patients ease transitions from medical facility care to home care. Credit: Susan Chiang/iStock
July 23, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A new law is on the books to help Arkansas caregivers and recent hospital patients ease transitions from medical facility care to home care.

The Arkansas Lay Caregiver Act (Act 1013) allows patients to officially designate a caregiver who will then be included and briefed about the situation.

In addition, the caregiver will receive information and care instructions when a patient is discharged.

But there's one more thing that's important, according to Herb Sanderson, AARP Arkansas associate state director for advocacy.

"What this does is, for the first time, legislation gives an official role to caregivers,” he points out. “It helps people that are going home get the care they need and avoid re-hospitalization."

The avoidance of re-hospitalization was a key point in gaining support for the law from medical facilities.

There's a taxpayer benefit, too, with Medicare alone reporting that preventable hospital re-admissions cost nearly $18 billion a year.

Sanderson adds that since most family caregivers also have jobs, the information and communication can help them juggle responsibilities.

Sanderson says about 452,000 people in Arkansas act as caregivers. They provide such things as meals, bathing, medications, chores and even some medical tasks. It's a list that can grow after a hospitalization, so keeping the caregiver up-to-date is crucial.

"The hospital will notify that caregiver if the person is going to be discharged, and if necessary, they'll demonstrate any aftercare that needs to be done to them," Sanderson explains.

Along with the new law, AARP Arkansas has put together a new Caregiver Resource Guide, which is available for free online at www.aarp.org/ar.



Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - AR